Georgia Elections Official Warned Counties Not to Grant Open Record Requests for Software: Memo

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
December 18, 2020 Updated: December 21, 2020

Georgia’s elections director sent a memo in November to warn counties that voting machine software wasn’t subject to open record requests as public demand was growing for transparency over Dominion Voting Systems software and other electronic poll book data.

“Multiple counties have reported receiving Open Records Requests asking for data information such as copies of original software for the voting equipment, copies of any software patches performed on Dominion voting machines in the State of Georgia prior to the November 3, 2020, General Election, as well as copies of any thumb drives provided to you containing software or software updates,” the memo from Chris Harvey states.

“Under the Open Records Act, providing copies of software, software updates, or thumb drives containing software or software updates is not subject to open records requests,” the memo states. “In addition, information that could harm the security of election equipment cannot be provided.”

The memo, which was sent to county election officials and county registrars, was made public on Dec. 17 by a local voter integrity campaigner.

The secretary of state’s office declined to comment on the matter, but didn’t deny the authenticity of the letter when contacted by The Epoch Times.

The memo also instructed against releasing information in KNOWiNK poll book log files, as it contains information protected under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act and the Open Records Act.

The memo cites Georgia law, which states that “documents or information that, if made public, would endanger the security of any voting system used or being considered for use in this state, or any component thereof, including, but not limited to, electronic ballot markers, DREs, ballot scanners, poll books, and software or data bases used for voter registration, shall not be open for public inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Georgia's Secretary Of State Holds News Conference On Election Ballot Count
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting in Atlanta, on Nov. 6, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Those who are convinced of election irregularities in the state have been frustrated by the reluctance of state officials, including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, to scrutinize the voting process more closely.

Georgia’s House Speaker David Ralston on Dec. 17 announced that he’s seeking to replace the state’s top election official amid a barrage of criticism from the Republican Party, President Donald Trump, and a bevy of state lawmakers.

Ralston, a Republican, told reporters in Atlanta that he’s seeking a constitutional amendment that would take the power to select the secretary of state from voters and give it to legislators.

“I think it’s time in Georgia that we look at an alternative way of electing our secretary of state,” Ralston said at a press conference. “I’m dead serious about this.”

Issues of election security in the state are even more significant due to the impending runoff election that may affect the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

After resisting the notion for some time, Raffensperger announced on Dec. 17 that the state would conduct a statewide check of signatures on mail-in ballots in all 159 counties.

Raffensperger asked researchers at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs to conduct the check, including a “randomized signature match study of election materials handled at the county level in the November 3 Presidential contest.”

Researchers will also examine the county-level processes used to match signatures on absentee ballots and their envelopes.

Zachary Stieber and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.

Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.