ATLANTA — A federal judge has ordered Georgia's elections officials to open up the computer systems for the first time and let the public see how votes are counted.

The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit that says the state's voting systems are vulnerable to hackers.

Emails obtained by 11Alive, show multiple cybersecurity experts warned the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State that they found several vulnerabilities on the elections website.

The whistleblowers said they found voter registration files that included the date of birth and social security numbers of Georgia voters. They also found detailed memos showing county elections officials how to log into the vote counting systems.

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This information was available online for weeks, if not years.

"We have no audit trail. We have some fundamental problems when we go to the ballot box," said a security expert familiar with the investigation who asked not to be named because they're not authorized to speak on the record.

That expert insists there is no evidence of any vote counts being manipulated.

The lawsuit, brought by the Coalition for Good Governance, centers around the paperless touchscreen voting machines that Georgia has used since 2002.

Think about the last time you voted in this state. You punch the screen, your vote is recorded on an electronic card that you then hand to an elections worker. 

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Your votes are input into the database. But there's no paper trail to ensure it's accuracy.

"While we can't tell you, yes, we see digital tracks of Russians coming in to manipulate votes, what we can tell you is there are many defective-appearing results," Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, said.

The coalition argues the voting information is public record that should be released. Lawyers for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger argued that allowing outside groups access to the information could compromise election security.

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"We are disappointed that Judge Totenberg has ordered us to give sensitive election infrastructure to those who seek to disrupt Georgia's elections. However, as we will point out to the Court, there is no evidence that Georgia's voting machines have ever been hacked or that the vote count has ever been manipulated," SOS Director of Communications Tess Hammock wrote in an email.

Judge Amy Totenberg gave the state until Friday to turn over the electronic copies of the databases.


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