In Atlanta, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, who previously received accolades for compelling Georgia to abandon vulnerable electronic voting machines, is now considering a similar directive against the state’s new machines. However, this time, numerous election officials are urging her not to take such action.
Officials from various levels of government and both political parties contend that the current voting machines in Georgia are less susceptible to sabotage compared to their predecessors, which lacked any paper record.
Their primary concern is that implementing changes just months before the 2024 presidential election could erode trust in the electoral process, overwhelm local election officials, and empower election deniers.
Sara Tindall Ghazal, the sole Democrat on Georgia’s State Election Board and a defendant in the case, warned that compelling changes so close to the November ballot could be a “recipe for unrest and potentially violence.”
The civil trial began on January 9 in an Atlanta district court, with arguments expected to conclude on Wednesday. Judge Totenberg, who will make a decision without a jury, is anticipated to issue a ruling in the coming weeks.
This places an unusual degree of influence over public confidence in Georgia’s 2024 election in the hands of a single judge who must navigate the delicate balance between genuine Election Day risks and exaggerated concerns.
While concerns about Russian election interference were prevalent during Totenberg’s earlier ruling, the current case holds more tangible implications. The individuals and technology central to the court battle are now integral to former President Donald Trump’s persistent claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Judge Totenberg, appointed by Obama, is recognized for her intensity, work ethic, and expertise in election technology.
A Harvard Law graduate, she joined the federal judiciary in 2011 after working in private practice and serving as in-house counsel to Atlanta’s school system. Although her name resonates in Beltway judicial circles, it is often associated with her elder sister, Nina, an NPR legal affairs correspondent.
The recent arguments are a continuation of the same case Totenberg ruled on in 2019, but now it focuses on the replacement voting machines acquired by Georgia from Dominion Voting Systems for approximately $100 million in that year.
Sara Tindall Ghazal underscored the seriousness of the situation, alluding to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, a millionaire who has actively supported Trump’s debunked claims about the 2020 election.
The judge’s decision holds significant implications for Georgia’s electoral integrity and will play a crucial role in shaping public perception of the upcoming presidential election in this pivotal swing state.