A trial in Georgia is set to begin Tuesday in a lawsuit dating back to 2017 regarding whether there are major security flaws with Dominion Voting Systems voting machines and whether these flaws violate voters’ constitutional rights.
Judge Amy Totenberg is set to hear the case at a bench trial at the Northern District of Georgia. The state had asked the judge to make a judgment based on the facts of the case without sending it to trial, but Judge Totenberg declined to do so in a November ruling.
“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,” Judge Totenberg wrote. “But reasonable, timely discussion and compromise in this case, coupled with prompt, informed legislative action, might certainly make a difference that benefits the parties and the public.”
The lawsuit was brought by Georgia voters as well as an election security advocacy group, the Coalition for Good Governance, in 2017. Since the case was brought, the state has taken on an elevated political role after it emerged as a keystone in both President Biden’s electoral college victory and the 2020 Democratic Senate majority.
Dominion Voting Systems and the company’s machines were the subject of many false claims leveled by President Trump and his allies that the election was rigged against him or stolen from him.
In the case about to be tried in Georgia, the plaintiffs initially focused on the paperless touchscreen voting machines that have been used in Georgia since 2002 before pivoting to focus on the new election system Georgia purchased in 2019.
In the state, voting machines print out a paper ballot with a text summary and a QR code. The QR code is read by a scanner to count the votes.
The group that brought the case says that voters can’t be positive that the bar code reflects their selection on the voting machine and that many voters don’t review the text summary, which makes audits difficult.
Attorneys for the state maintain that every election system has at least some vulnerabilities and that election officials in Georgia take precautions to prevent voting machines from being exploited.
In Judge Totenberg’s order sending the case to trial, she stressed that though she would hear the case, she likely wouldn’t be able to rule that the state must adopt paper ballots, regardless of whether she ruled in favor of the voters that brought the case. She said there are “pragmatic, sound remedial policy measures” that could be taken to address any potential issues.
These measures could include things like having the scanners read the plain text on the printed ballots, expanding the types of election audits in Georgia, and implementing further cybersecurity measures.
In 2023, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787 million in response to allegations that it was involved in irregularities during the 2020 vote. In a statement following the settlement, Fox News acknowledged that certain claims aired against Dominion on Fox News were found to be false by a court.
As the case against Fox News was headed to trial, it was disclosed that Fox News journalists and hosts viewed the claims that the 2020 election was stolen with skepticism and that Fox News employees expressed these doubts in private communications.
The case was settled before opening statements, preventing Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson and the network’s founder, Rupert Murdoch, from having to testify publicly.
The Coalition for Good Governance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Correction: Fox News settled its dispute with Dominion Voting Systems in 2023. An earlier version misstated the year.