ATLANTA, Georgia: The trial set for early 2024 will decide whether Georgia's electronic voting system has major cybersecurity flaws, which potentially violated voters' constitutional rights to cast their votes and have them accurately counted.
As part of a long-running lawsuit filed by activists who said the state should abandon its electronic voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued a 135-page ruling late November 10.
The state had asked Totenberg to rule in its favor based on the arguments and facts in the case without going to trial, but the judge decided that "material facts in dispute" must be decided at trial.
The trial is set to be a January 9 bench trial, meaning there will be no jury.
"The Court cannot wave a magic wand in this case to address the varied challenges to our democracy and election system in recent years, including those presented in this case," Totenberg wrote.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of individual voters and the Coalition for Good Governance, which advocates for election security and integrity, against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and State Election Board members.
The current configuration of the state's election system presents a threat to voters' right to have their votes counted as cast, the lawsuit claims.
A subsequent expert report identified vulnerabilities in the election system used in Georgia, leading a federal cybersecurity agency to issue an advisory to jurisdictions that use the equipment and causing some Georgia Republicans to call for the machines' removal.
It also led to the exposure of a breach of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county, which has resulted in criminal charges for several people as part of the Fulton County indictment against former President Donald Trump and 18 other suspects.
Since the lawsuit was first filed in 2017, Georgia has emerged as a pivotal swing state, putting a national spotlight on its elections.