The Latest: Judge could force Georgia to use paper ballots

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on a hearing over Georgia’s election systems: (all times local):

10:35 p.m.

A federal judge says Georgia allowed its election system to grow “way too old and archaic” and now has a deep hole to dig out of to ensure that the right to vote is protected.

After a hearing ended Friday night, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg is in the difficult position of having to decide whether the state must immediately abandon its outdated voting machines in favor of an interim solution for this fall’s special and municipal elections. Georgia plans to implement a new voting system statewide next year.

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Election integrity advocates sued Georgia in 2017 alleging that the touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking.

Lawyers for state election officials say it would be too costly and chaotic to use an interim system this fall.

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9:05 a.m.

Lawyers for election integrity advocates say Georgia election officials repeatedly and intentionally destroyed evidence they say could show unauthorized access to state election infrastructure and potential manipulation of election results.

They allege in a lawsuit that the voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. In a court filing Thursday, they said the state began destroying evidence within days of the suit’s filing in 2017 and has continued to do so as the case moved forward.

A lawyer representing state officials declined Friday to comment on the allegations.

The brief was filed as a hearing was underway on plaintiff requests that the judge order the state to immediately stop using its outdated voting machines and switch to hand-marked paper ballots. That hearing continues Friday.

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