Press Release: Call For Handmarked Paper Ballots

(ATLANTA, GA.) – Ryan Graham, candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Chair of the Libertarian Party of Georgia is calling on the Georgia State Election Board to authorize the use of emergency paper ballot procedures in the 2022 election. Recent revelations that Georgia’s digital voting machine software has been compromised make Graham’s call to action urgent for all in-person voters.

Graham, along with other Libertarian, Republican, and Democratic candidates and officials, has signed a letter to the Board calling for voters to receive hand-marked ballots for 2022 – ballots that would leave a paper trail and enable transparent auditing, which Georgia’s computerized ballot marking devices conceal. “Empowering the public’s votes and ensuring votes are accurately counted is a fundamental pillar of good governance, and of my campaign.”

Georgia’s voting relies on electronic touchscreen software owned by Dominion Voting System. Libertarians and other transparency activists raised massive concerns before a Republican-controlled assembly adopted the machines, but in the intervening years, the stakes have shifted.  

First, reports of the Georgia Dominion software being susceptible to hacking cast doubt on the election process. Similar reports of “unauthorized access” to vote-counting software have been raised in Michigan and Colorado

Second, the ballot marking device (BMD) ballots are not verified nor able to be audited. The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is reviewing vulnerabilities with the BMD devices. Election security experts point to potentially undetectable manipulations and miscounting, using the BMD systems.

“The process has been made opaque and complicated on purpose,” Graham said, “to make it more difficult for voters to be heard.” Graham’s fellow candidates have raised similar concerns in the past two election cycles. “Hand-marked ballots are an accurate and secure way for people to vote. We have transparent methods where the voters’ intent is easy to determine – please pay attention to who wants the process to be  more vulnerable and less secure.”

Graham is working with a multi-partisan group of candidates to investigate and advocate the Election Board use hand-marked ballots (which are far less susceptible to manipulation, and can be cross-checked later), to increase voter confidence.

Electronically recorded, barcode-only voting also raises concerns about potential foreign – particularly Russian – meddling or hacking that might disrupt November’s elections or tallying. Federal government officials have called on states to defend their cyber-security: Georgia, according to Graham and other experts, has failed to do so.

In his time as Chair of LP Georgia, Graham has consistently called for handmarked, auditable paper ballots, as well as a ranked-choice voting system and ballot reform that would give Georgians more choices on every ballot. If transparency doesn’t improve, Graham argues, Georgians might never actually have a choice at all. 

Everyone is encouraged to visit Graham4GA.com, or connect on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, to learn more about issues, volunteer, donate, or connect to the campaign. 

Call To Use Hand Marked Paper Ballots

April 18, 2022
Dr. Janice Johnston
Ms. Sara Tindall-Ghazal
Mr. Edward Lindsey
Mr. Matt Mashburn


Dear Members of the State Election Board:

We the undersigned have a unique stake in the 2022 elections. We are candidates running for Georgia office or representatives of political parties nominating 2022 candidates. This is a multi-partisan effort to achieve fair elections for all candidates and voters who support them. Your immediate action is required to protect Georgia elections, to authorize statewide use of the Emergency Paper Ballot procedures with current optical scanners for in-person voting in pending 2022 elections.

Recent developments make it clear that Georgia faces unacceptable risk by requiring all in-person voters to use ballot marking devices to mark ballots. Unauthorized access to Georgia’s Dominion software allegedly occurred in Coffee County following the November 2020 election. Dr. Halderman’s sealed report documenting system vulnerabilities was filed with your experts on July 1, 2021, and federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) initiated a vulnerability assessment of the BMDs in late January. To date, state election officials have not responded to the elevated risk for 2022 elections. Meantime, voter confidence in Georgia elections has suffered.

We understand that the current Dominion Voting System can be easily reconfigured to produce transparent verifiable results, utilizing a simpler, less expensive configuration by invoking existing back-up balloting rules which have been used successfully in every election in emergency situations since deployment of the system. Georgia’s Emergency Paper Ballot configuration, using hand-marked ballots with the current precinct scanners, is reportedly the standard configuration for the Dominion Voting System in the vast majority of states using Dominion systems.

Voter confidence in Georgia is suffering because of a variety of factors such as those described in Appendix 1 of this letter. CISA is reviewing Georgia’s BMD touchscreen system’s identified vulnerabilities and has not yet issued its report of required software patches. That concern alone merits this Board’s prompt action to protect the pending 2022 elections. As State Election Board members, you have access to Dr. Halderman’s sealed report which reportedly details the vulnerabilities now being assessed by CISA. We call on you to act on your review of those findings to protect upcoming elections and mitigate the growing threats.

The need for your immediate action has intensified with recent credible reports of unauthorized individuals possessing Georgia’s Dominion Voting System software as well as the Dominion software used in Michigan and Colorado. Georgia’s risks are significantly greater than Michigan or Colorado’s risks given that those states have the “gold standard” of hand-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanners and frequent post-election audits to help mitigate such risks. Such mitigation is exactly what we call on you to do for the upcoming primary, runoffs, and general election. Mitigating Georgia’s alarming cyber-security risks will dramatically increase voter confidence.

We urge the State Election Board to inform the counties that the risks created by the circumstances described above and in Appendix 1 constitute an emergency requiring existing emergency balloting procedures using hand marked paper ballots. (Rule 183-1-12-.11.2(c)-(d))
We understand the Dominion system can be used in its standard configuration using hand marked ballots as the primary uniform method of voting, with touchscreens reserved for accessibility needs. Poll managers and workers are already trained in the emergency balloting procedures. Early voting locations as well as Election Day polling places are currently required to have an emergency supply of blank ballots in all appropriate styles for hand marking. (Rule 183-1-12-.01) This existing requirement supports the feasibility of our request, particularly if Dominion’s ballot-on-demand printing application is used for low volume ballot styles. Predictable high volume ballot styles can be commercially printed based on prior election usage. (See Appendix 1)

We also ask that you also require extensive post-election audits of the scanner tabulations of hand marked ballots to verify the outcomes of races. Together these steps will rebuild Georgia’s voter confidence by providing assurance that Georgia’s election outcomes reflect the will of the people.

Thank you for your prompt and timely review of our proposal, and thank you for your service to all Georgia voters.


Sincerely,

Libertarian Party of Georgia

Ryan Graham, Candidate for Lt. Governor

Ted Metz, Candidate for Secretary of State

Shane Hazel, Candidate for Governor

Colin McKinney, Candidate for Public Service Commissioner, District 2

Dave Raudabaugh, Candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture

Angela Pence, Candidate for US House, District 14

Emily Anderson, Candidate for Commissioner of Labor

Mark Mosley, Candidate for US House, District 8

Clinton Cowart, Candidate for Georgia House, District 165

Appendix 1 (Information supplied by Coalition for Good Governance)

Risks to 2022 Election and Voter Confidence

  • Alleged Dominion software breach/copying/theft in Coffee County. There are credible allegations of the unauthorized copying of the Dominion software from Coffee County, apparently facilitated by insiders in November 2020. After alleged unauthorized access to the
    software, the Coffee County machine recount was reportedly discrepant, causing the county board of elections to initially refuse to certify the presidential recount. In 2021, after the alleged breach, the SOS apparently seized the county election server containing Dominion software. The State Election Board disclosed in Court that an investigation was undertaken in late February 2022. Findings of this Board should promptly be made public.
  • Unauthorized copies of Dominion software threaten 2022 elections. Unauthorized copies of the Dominion software from Colorado and Michigan were released into the public domain. This facilitates election attacks by large number of would-be attackers with extended access to the software to develop and practice system hacks. Georgia Dominion software is also reportedly in unauthorized hands, although this is just becoming public information.
  • High risk electronic touchscreen system. CISA (a division of DHS) is reviewing the vulnerabilities of Georgia’s BMD system. There is no estimate of the time required for assessment, disclosure, software patches, EAC approval and installation in the BMD systems. Experts have issued grave warnings (details under court seal) of potential for undetectable vote manipulations.
  • Significant November 2020 vote tabulation discrepancies are subject to repetition in 2022. Unrebutted experts’ reports show that thousands of ballots were counted two or more times, or not at all, in the November 2020 election, although the reported discrepancies were said to be offsetting in the POTUS votes (although too many records are missing to estimate with certainty.) The root cause of the systemic inaccurate counting of ballots is unknown, because discovery has not been conducted to date. The causes may include software bugs, malware, machine malfunctions, human error, and intentional double and triple scanning.
  • The November 2020 POTUS audit proved that Georgia audits do not detect tabulation discrepancies. Political leaders and state officials are generally unaware of the significant audit failures because Secretary Raffensperger has declared the audits to be a success, while not reporting the significant audit discrepancies detected. Thousands of votes were inaccurately recorded in the audit records, but were not investigated nor corrected.
  • BMD ballots proven to be unverified, unauditable records. Secretary of State commissioned research to determine whether voters accurately verified the computer-marked ballots. The results demonstrated that voters do not adequately verify their ballots. This finding is consistent with experts’ previous reports.
  • Russian cyber-security threats are escalated. Federal government officials warn that threats of Russian election hacking have increased and urge defensive measures. Georgia is an attractive and easy target given the unusual statewide uniformity, the preponderance of BMD-generated ballots, and central programming of the system, and the national importance of the high profile 2022 races for US Senate and Governor, and low voter confidence that exists today.

PR: More voices and more choices in Georgia elections

(ATLANTA, GA.) –   The Libertarian Party of Georgia is fighting for its own candidates to appear on ballots despite the disapproval of incumbents even though one in three Georgia General Assembly candidates won’t have a single challenger, the two-party system won’t allow anyone else to offer Georgians a different choice. 

In a recent article in The Georgia Virtue it was identified that 30.3 percent of state Senate races and 26.1 percent of state Representative races are unopposed in both the Primary and General elections. “The Republican and Democratic party establishments are getting exactly what they want here,” says Libertarian Party of Georgia Chair and Lieutenant Governor candidate Ryan Graham. “Incumbent state Senators and Representatives are running unopposed in BOTH the primary and general election. Voters in those districts have literally no choice, and no representation. They already won. The voting doesn’t even matter.”

“Of course incumbents don’t want more challengers,” continued Graham. “Ballot access barriers are designed to discourage anyone running outside that partisan system, so we have people out there who want to run to improve their communities and then realize how effectively the game has been rigged,” says Graham. “You can’t have a fair and free election with only one candidate appearing on one-third of ballots. The two-party system wants to consolidate power, by robbing voters of literally any choice.”

Graham sees the ballot access law as voter disenfranchisement, because local partisan committees pre-screen who voters can choose between. “When only one or two candidates can seek a seat, the vast majority of Georgia’s diverse views aren’t being represented. Voters are deprived of the opportunity to choose, and to vote for a candidate who might be closer to their views,” Graham contends. “Elections should select representatives, not rubber-stamp a forgone conclusion. Very simply, we need more voices and more choices in our political process…not less.”

The Libertarian Party of Georgia has petitioned the 11th Circuit to review the pending  case challenging the existing ballot access laws en banc (meaning before all 12 of its judges). Ryan Graham is running for Georgia Lieutenant Governor, promising to “Strike the Root” and calling for meaningful reforms throughout the entire state. To learn more about the Graham campaign, please visit Graham4GA.com. If you have any questions or would like to contact Ryan directly, please email ryan@graham4ga.com

Atlanta’s Ryan Graham Seeks to “Strike the Root” in Lt. Governor’s Race

(ATLANTA, GA.) Libertarian Party of Georgia Chairman Ryan Graham announces his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor in 2022. The 36-year-old IT Project Manager is running on a wide range of issues, prioritizing criminal justice, education, health care, and election reforms. 

 “The two old parties have not lived up to the expectations of the voters, and continue to ignore policy issues important to Georgians,” says Graham. 

“State government wants to create ‘solutions’ but instead create unintended consequences that are often worse than the original problem,” Graham continues. That’s why his campaign slogan is “Strike the Root” – he intends to go after root causes of social issues, rather than try to treat symptoms, which solves nothing and invites both abuses of power and  bureaucratic waste. 

Topping Graham’s list of policy priorities is education reform. Two-thirds of Georgia public school students don’t read ‘proficiently’ for their grade level, and have fallen even farther behind during the pandemic. “The priorities of bureaucracies are very different from those of children and families,” Graham says. “We’re spending more money than ever, administering more tests, assigning more homework, requiring more hours, and none of it has improved outcomes. It’s time to do something fundamentally different, not just more of what we know doesn’t work.”

Graham is especially critical of standardized testing, which he says does not truly measure student aptitude or learning. Research shows high-stakes testing actually damages long-term learning by encouraging ‘teaching to the test,’ and neglecting harder-to-measure but more meaningful outcomes. The state has large, costly contracts with companies who create and score those tests, and Graham believes that money could be better spent on things that serve students, like innovating curricula to support students’ strengths and aspirations. A father of a school-age daughter himself, Graham wants more choices for all Georgia’s students. 

Graham’s candidacy calls for major reform into what he calls government overreach into the private lives and choices of citizens, especially as a response to COVID-19. “Number one, no vaccine mandates,” declares Graham. “The decision to receive a vaccine is between an individual and their healthcare provider;   no government has the authority to make that decision for you.” 

The Libertarian candidate’s views on personal autonomy carry over to the War on Drugs, where government’s insistence that it can control people’s choices has led to far greater social consequences than drug use itself. He believes Georgia should decriminalize drug possession and legalize cannabis,  as other states have done. Ending drug-war-era abuses of power (including militarized police, no-knock raids, and the seizing of property by police without any criminal charges or convictions), he says, will restore basic civil liberties Georgians have lost.

As a third-party candidate, Graham pays special attention to methods incumbents use to keep alternatives off the ballot and away from voters’ attention. He promotes a slate of reforms, including  fair ballot access laws, ranked choice voting, and hand-marked paper ballots to replace Georgia’s easily hacked and manipulated voting machines. “I want there to be more choices that represent more Georgians,” declares Graham. “If independents and minor parties are not actively blocked from ballots, and the voting rules are fairer,” Graham argues, “more people could  actually vote FOR someone who represents them and not just against the other guy.” 

Everyone is encouraged to visit the campaign’s website Graham4GA.com to learn more about issues, sign up to volunteer, make a donation, or message the campaign.

Educational Freedom vs School Choice

This week, Republican legislators in the Georgia General Assembly introduced HB 999, a bill they are saying “funds students not systems.” From the jump, I’d like to say this is a bill I’d cautiously encourage legislators to support. In a marvel of anatomy and politics, however, HB 999 manages to both overreach and fall short.  

What Does HB 999 Do?

HB 999 provides some students $6,000 for some schools. The “some” in there is so important I’m going to dedicate a section to each. It creates two brand new committees (more bureaucrats making education decisions) to oversee the allocation of funds and the qualifications of both students and schools. It sets testing standards for participating students. Finally, it adds all kinds of reporting to various bureaucracies that already exist, making them ever-so-slightly more bloated and burdensome than they already are.

Some Students

I said I’d get back to the “some” portion. Some students qualify for HB 999 funding. Qualifications include: 

  • The student’s parent(s) need to live in GA. No problem here. We’re spending Georgia tax money, it might as well be a benefit for Georgians.
  • The student must have been enrolled in a public school in Georgia for at least 6 weeks in the year prior to enrolling in a qualified school. Students and parents who have had enough of public schools and were already finding other options are out of luck. They don’t qualify. Their taxes still go to fund systems.
  • The parent has to sign an agreement promising:
    • They’ll teach a curriculum consisting of at least reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies, and science. More politicians dictating education instead of leaving it up to the people involved.
    • They won’t (re)enroll their student in public schools, including charters, while in the program. This makes sense since public money is already being funneled into those schools.
    • They will only use the funds for qualified student expenses. Again, politicians are trying to insert themselves into the education process to qualify what does and doesn’t constitute an education. Politicians should have no say.
  • The student isn’t receiving scholarships as defined in Title 20 Chapter 2 Article 33 of the Georgia Code. You can only qualify to have your own tax money back from the state if you agree not to take money offered voluntarily from other sources.

Some Schools

And here are the list of qualifications for participating as a school:

  • Submit a financial report that demonstrates financial soundness as determined by the committee that’s being created. More bureaucracy! Government programs never have to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.
  • Have been in operation for over a year. No new schools!
  • Comply with antidiscrimination provisions in Federal Law. Not sure you can be a “school” without doing this.
  • Comply with health and safety laws and codes that apply to private schools.
  • Another bullet that says comply with laws regarding private schools. They really mean it.
  • And, only employ teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher or at least 3 years experience in education. Legislators don’t want education options that think too far outside of the standard box. Only limited innovation will be encouraged, by people who’ve already been shaped by a certain system.

The state continues to strictly limit who may call themselves a  school; pandemic pods, self-directed education spaces, unschoolers aren’t covered. Many liberty minded educators, including homeschoolers, prefer not to take taxpayer money because it always comes with strings and interference. 

Some Standardized Testing

Standardized testing is among the most widely loathed aspects of government school programs. The rigid application of relatively arbitrary standards (these sight words in kindergarten, so many multiplication tables by second grade) ignores the diversity of our children. Memorization and teaching to the test damage children’s natural curiosity, limiting the true, organic potential of both teachers and students.  

This bill requires schools to administer at least three tests in math and language arts per year. To prove they conform to “standards,” schools will be required to recreate one of the worst parts of modern public schools.

Some Other Notes

One line in this bill really stands out to me:

The creation of the program or the granting of an account pursuant to this chapter shall not be construed to imply that a public school did not provide a free and appropriate public education for a student or constitute a waiver or admission by the state.

Lawmakers literally put propaganda into the bill itself. The most important people for this program to reach are those to whom currently public schools did not provide appropriate education. The eagerness of families to pull children from assigned schools the moment they can afford to is itself an indictment of assigned schools – whether the state ‘admits’ it or not. 

The Committee established by the bill will  set up the bureaucracy that funnels money from the state to eligible schools. The expensive administrative bloat is inevitable. Graft, cronyism, and rent-seeking will follow. 

But, hey, at least the $6,000 parents get back won’t be considered taxable income. That’s got to count for something.

Educational Freedom

I didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about this bill, but the truth is, it does create more choice for students in Georgia. It illustrates the difference between narrow “school choice” bills vs any kind of true educational freedom. The bill allows some state education money to “fund students, not systems,” but really only slightly expands the systems they’re willing to fund. Enforcing standardized testing and hours of bureaucratic compliance on innovative programs makes those programs look a lot like what’s already failing Georgia kids. You can “choose” anything at the burger joint, but it’s a limited menu.

Georgia lawmakers aren’t qualified to define what education should work for every kid. If parents are eager to move their kids into other options, let those options proliferate and diversify, customizing their offerings. 

To advance the short-term goal of improving the range of education options available to Georgians, I support this bill. But to move toward true educational freedom, get the ever-growing bureaucracy out of the way and let educators innovate. Give students the power of real choice.