ATLANTA – A federal lawsuit against Georgia’s new electoral law claims the measure criminalizes normal behavior in polling stations – and can be used to intimidate voters.

The lawsuit is also designed to prevent whistleblowers from reporting misconduct during recounts and other public voting.

When Dominion Voting Systems shipped its new voting machines to Georgia counties in late 2019, many noticed the size of the touchpad, its bright image, and its upright position – which seemed to make it easy for others in the room to see how they were voting.

In February 2020, during a special election in Irwin County, 11Alive News voters told 11Alive News that it was too easy for them to see the ballots cast by their district neighbors.

Although the state eventually put visual barriers in place for the touchpads, the electoral law required machines to be visible so that election workers could prevent tampering.

The new law maintains the visibility requirements – but also makes it a crime for a voter to “intentionally” look at one of these visible voting screens elsewhere in a district. Attorney Bruce Brown, who filed the lawsuit on Monday, says any polling officer can select any voter as a potential criminal whose gaze falls on a location other than his or her own ballot.

Republicans in legislature admitted that the size and positioning of the touchpads make voter privacy difficult, but not impossible.

The lawsuit states that the new law does not just criminalize the gaze of a voter in one district. It also prevents observers from reporting irregularities to anyone other than the polling officer during a recount.

And while last year’s recounts were largely open to election observers, reporters and political activists, the lawsuit alleges that the new electoral law will make photography of much of this activity a criminal offense.

  • Challenges provision that allows the state electoral board to serve up to four county electoral boards if the board deems local corporations unsuitable;
  • Challenges the requirement that voters only need to provide identification numbers rather than signature matches in order to receive postal ballot papers;
  • Claims that tighter deadlines for applying for postal ballot papers limit the availability of such ballot papers.