Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is requesting the release of a confidential report detailing problems with the state’s electronic system, which has been a source of conspiracy theories since the 2020 presidential election.

This story also appeared in Georgia Recorder

Raffensperger attacked the motivation for University of Michigan computer science and engineering professor J. Alex Halderman’s report detailing Dominion Voting Systems’ vulnerability to hackers. Georgia replaced its old Diebold machines with Dominion’s for the 2020 election cycle.

Halderman was pressed by the Republican state election chief to ask District Court Judge Amy Totenberg to unseal the report filed in the ongoing 2017 lawsuit seeking to replace the state’s new electronic voting devices with more secure paper ballots.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the details of the confidential report on Wednesday, raising concerns about the steps state election officials have taken to improve security this election cycle and prompting Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to ask the Secretary of State’s Office to ensure the system’s integrity.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger delivers a press conference Nov. 4, 2020. As part of the SB 202 election law, state lawmakers stripped the secretary of state as chair of the State Election Board.

Raffensperger said Halderman’s report is based on a lawsuit backed by left-leaning organizations after the computer science researcher was granted unfettered access to Georgia’s voting equipment.

“Halderman was given access to Georgia’s election system by the judge, the equivalent of having the keys and alarm codes to a home then claiming he found a way to break in,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “The public deserves to know the context of J. Alex Halderman’s claims and his testimony regarding the 2020 election.” 

Contrary to the claims of former President Donald Trump and many of his allies, investigations by the FBI and other national security agencies found no widespread fraud or security breaches with voting machines contributed to the 2020 election results. Raffensperger often calls the 2020 election cycle the most secure in Georgia’s history, with the presidential results being confirmed through recounts, including a hand count of 5 million ballots.

A persistent target of election security conspiracies is the Dominion Systems voting machines installed in Georgia in 2020 to replace technology considered less secure that had been in use since 2002.

In the Dominion system, Georgians cast their votes on large touch-screen devices before printing a paper ballot containing their selections and a QR code, or a barcode, that is scanned to tabulate the results.

Totenberg has said that electronic voting systems pose security risks and that Dominion’s reliance on the QR code might not align with Georgia law. 

Dominion President and CEO John Poulos criticized Halderman’s analysis for not incorporating voting safeguards and other information.

“There is a reason why U.S. voting systems rely on bipartisan election officials, poll-watchers, distributed passwords, access controls and audit processes,” he said. “The review conducted in the Curling case did not take this approach.”

Dominion has filed multiple defamation lawsuits against Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Guiliani, attorney Sidney Powell and news organizations who the company says consistently spread lies about, such as unfounded theories that machines flipped thousands of ballots to President Joe Biden. 

The Dominion’s civil case targets far-right news outlet One American News Network, which filed a formal request in Georgia’s district court seeking access to Halderman’s report Thursday.  

Halderman is far from the first expert to examine the level of security of voting equipment technology. Over the past few years, hackers and security experts have examined the security – and insecurity – of the nation’s voting infrastructure, while the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned in 2020 of malicious attacks from actors spreading misinformation. 

Politico and Axios have reported that the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol Hill insurrection has a draft of an executive order from Trump that would have allowed the military to seize voting equipment in Georgia and Michigan.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.