Judge Won’t Budge as Voting Machine Report Fuels Conspiracies_freckle removal laser machine

Jose Pagliery, Shannon Vavra·5 min readIn this article:
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  • Amy TotenbergAmy TotenbergAmerican judge
  • Brad RaffenspergerAmerican politician (1955-)
  • J. Alex HaldermanAmerican computer scientist
Andrew Burton/Getty
Andrew Burton/Getty

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg has boxed herself into a dilemma.

She has kept a report on a theoretical voting machine flaw—authored by a respected computer researcher—secret since last summer, citing concerns that releasing the report would fuel conspiracy theories about voting machines and the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

But her attempts at preventing conspiracy theories has fueled those theories anyway. And now, she has Georgia's top elections official, Brad Raffensberger, urging her to make the report public.

For now, Totenberg decided Thursday that she would keep the document private. But she said she would review the report herself and potentially make a new judgment soon—possibly as soon as Monday.

“I’m unhappy about the course of political treatment of the report… it’s out of hand,” a clearly frustrated Totenberg said in court Thursday. “But I’m not going to release it without seeing what is being proposed with redactions.”

The judge’s decision to keep the report private last year has generated plenty of scrutiny—and interest from the Department of Homeland Security, Louisiana’s secretary of state, and Fox News.

Judge Seals Report on Voting Machine Vulnerability

Many want to see what, exactly, Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman found that led him to conclude that a non-technical person could spend a few minutes in a voting booth and change how a particular machine tallies votes.

“Georgia voters face an extreme risk that [ballot marking device]-based attacks could manipulate their individual votes and alter election outcomes,” Halderman said of the secret report in a signed declaration last year, as The Daily Beast previously reported.

And facing mounting pressure—including from fellow Republican allies like Gov. Brian Kemp—Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued a statement Thursday urging transparency.

Although Halderman has already asked for a safer, redacted version of his report to be made public, Raffensperger issued a statement Thursday “calling on J. Alex Halderman” to ask the judge to publicly release his findings. “The public deserves to know the context of J. Alex Halderman’s claims,” Raffensberger said.


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