POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Democratic candidates call on Gov. Nathan Deal to replace voting machines by November | News

Twenty-six Democratic candidates for elected offices, many of whom represent parts of Gwinnett County, called on the state this week to replace its voting machines before the November general election.

The candidates sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday outlining concerns that Georgia’s voting machines could be vulnerable to attacks from hackers, particularly from Russia. They also said the state should move faster than the timeline outlined in the pending Senate Bill 403.

The bill, which has been passed by the Senate and is pending in the House of Representatives, requires the current voting machines be replaced with optical scanning voting systems by 2024, a request for bids to go out in 2019.

“Virginia decertified and replaced its direct-recording electronic voting system machines prior to the 2017 elections as soon as the state became aware of the serious vulnerability of these systems,” the group said in its letter. “Further, Georgia currently has a reserve of over $2 billion.

“There is no reason to think that the state cannot afford the $35 million it would cost to implement hand-marked ballots and protect the integrity of the vote. The failure to fund and implement this critical reform before the November 2018 midterm elections will not reflect anything but a lack of political will. It’s time to put patriotic duty before politics.”

Local office candidates who signed included 7th Congressional District candidates Carolyn Bourdeaux, Steven M. Reilly, Kathleen H. Allen, David Kim, Melissa M. Davis and Ethan Pham; 10th Congressional District candidate Chalis Montgomery; Gwinnett County School Board candidates Everton Blair Jr. and Wandy Taylor; House District 97 candidate Aisha Yaqoob; House District 102 candidates Tony Scalzitti and Gregg Kennard; House District 104 candidate Andrea Stephenson; House District 105 candidate Donna McLeod; House District 107 candidate Shelly Hutchinson; House District 108 candidate Jasmine Clark; Senate District 40 candidate Tamara Johnson Shealey; and Senate District 9 candidate Cheryle R. Moses.

Candidates for other offices in the state who signed the letter include 6th Congressional District candidate Kevin Abel; 9th Congressional District candidate Josh McCall; Commissioner of Labor candidate Richard Keatley; State Superintendent of Schools candidate Sid Chapman; State Insurance Commissioner candidate Janice Laws; House District 25 candidate Anita H. Tucker; Senate District 27 candidate Steve Smith; and Public Service Commission District 3 candidate John Noel.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Speaker of the House David Ralston and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., took aim at politicians who criticize judges as he addressed the U.S. Supreme Court’s justices Tuesday.

Johnson’s remarks came during the open session of the court’s Judicial Conference. The congressman is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and he was introduced by Chief Justice John Roberts at the conference.

The conference handles governance of the federal judicial system, including dealing with rules of evidence and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

“Supporting our judiciary should not be a Republican or Democratic Party issue,” Johnson said. “A strong, independent and co-equal Judicial Branch transcends partisanship and politics, and is essential for the maintenance of our American way of life. I view it as my responsibility to protect this nation’s courts, and the role of an impartial judiciary, rendering justice in accordance with the rule of law.”

Political Notebook appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.