Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May.

But 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout.

The discrepancy, included in a number of sworn statements and exhibits filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election security activists, comes amid swelling public concern for the security of Georgia’s voting systems. Georgia is one of four states that uses voting machines statewide that produce no paper record for voters to verify, making them difficult to audit, experts say.

And cybersecurity experts have warned that there were security flaws on the state election website leading up to the 2016 contest that permitted the download and manipulation of voter information.

The court filings highlight various issues with Georgia’s 16-year-old voting machines, as well as the system that runs them and handles voter registration information.

In one sworn statement, a voter explains that she and her husband, who were registered to vote at the same address, were assigned different polling places and different city council districts. In another, a voting machine froze on Election Day.

In several instances, voters showed up at their polling places as listed on the secretary of state’s website, only to be told they were supposed to vote elsewhere.

An Atlanta Democrat’s voting machine provided him a ballot including the 5th Congressional District, for which longtime Rep. John Lewis ran unopposed, instead of his 6th Congressional District ballot, which featured a competitive Democratic race.

Some issues, such as the freezing machines, could be chalked up to the age of the polling infrastructure, said Harri Hursti, a computer programmer who studies election cybersecurity.

But others, like the incorrect ballots, could have been caused by anything from a clerical error to a malicious manipulation of voter data, said Hursti, who is also the organizer for the Voting Village at hacking conference DEF CON, where participants demonstrate hacking into some state voting machines.

It’s possible that there’s a connection between the security issues reported at Georgia’s Center for Election Systems and the issues chronicled in the court statements, but an immediate switch to paper ballots is necessary regardless, Hursti said.

“But the connection is not needed,” he said. “You don’t need to have a smoking gun to do the right thing.”

In a statement, the office of Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp defended the security of state elections.

“Alongside federal, local and private sector partners, we continue to fight every day to ensure secure and accurate elections in Georgia that are free from interference. To this day, due to the vigilance, dedication and hard work of those partners, our elections system and voting equipment remain secure,” spokeswoman Candice Broce wrote in an email.

Kemp has set up a bipartisan commission to look into changing state voting machines ahead of the 2020 elections, but not in time for the midterm elections this November.

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Read the complete article at courier-tribune.com

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This article was written by Christine Condon of the McClatchy Washington Bureau.