Botched vote count in DeKalb race caused by Georgia programming mistake

“Georgia’s election system works and is secure,” Evans said. “DeKalb’s elections team is setting an example for the rest of the state of how to properly audit and review results before certification.”

The recount, which will be open to the public, will scan each paper ballot on a central scanner at the DeKalb elections office starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. The recount will become the results certified by the DeKalb elections board next week.

Comparing the DeKalb County District 2 vote counts

The votes in District 2 were to be hand counted beginning Saturday 5-28 and continued Sunday and Monday. As of Tuesday, the recount was not complete. We will update when the new count is available. Note results are unofficial and may be incomplete.

The original count reported 5/25. Note results are unofficial and may be incomplete.

Hundreds of votes for Spears may not have been initially counted. Voter turnout in the district, which includes Brookhaven, Decatur and Druid Hills, was half as high as a neighboring commission district in southwest DeKalb.

“Our staff not only followed the proper procedures in advance but responded with urgency when this error came to light,” DeKalb Election Board Chairwoman Dele Lowman Smith said. “DeKalb County voters can take courage in the multiple checks and balances built into the voting process that should give them confidence in the outcome of this vote.”

A series of programming changes to voting touchscreens and scanners contributed to the erroneous count, according to the secretary of state’s office.

First, election officials adjusted settings to show three candidates in the commission race instead of four after Donald Broussard withdrew his candidacy.

Then, election officials discovered that voting equipment in five precincts hadn’t been updated after redistricting this year to reflect they were now within that commission district.

Next, the secretary of state’s Center for Election Systems tried to fix a problem in which a Republican Party ballot question wasn’t appearing correctly on touchscreens.

But the state’s attempt to correct the ballot question introduced a discrepancy between the five redistricted precincts and the rest of the commission district.

As a result, most ballot scanners on election day were programmed to expect votes for four candidates in the race when there were only three displayed on ballots, an inconsistency that prevented votes for Spears from being counted.

Georgia uses a voting system that combines voting touchscreens with printed-out paper ballots, which can be used to help check electronic results during recounts or audits. The state spent over $138 million to purchase voting equipment from Dominion Voting Systems in 2019.

Going into the recount, Marshall Orson and Lauren Alexander were in first and second place, putting them in a position to advance to a June 21 runoff. However, the recount could put Spears in contention.


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The race to save the Internet from quantum hackers

In cybersecurity circles, they call it Q-day: the day when quantum computers will break the Internet.

Almost everything we do online is made possible by the quiet, relentless hum of cryptographic algorithms. These are the systems that scramble data to protect our privacy, establish our identity and secure our payments. And they work well: even with the best supercomputers available today, breaking the codes that the online world currently runs on would be an almost hopeless task.

But machines that will exploit the quirks of quantum physics threaten that entire deal. If they reach their full scale, quantum computers would crack current encryption algorithms exponentially faster than even the best non-quantum machines can. “A real quantum computer would be extremely dangerous,” says Eric Rescorla, chief technology officer of the Firefox browser team at Mozilla in San Francisco, California.

As in a cheesy time-travel trope, the machines that don’t yet exist endanger not only our future communications, but also our current and past ones. Data thieves who eavesdrop on Internet traffic could already be accumulating encrypted data, which they could unlock once quantum computers become available, potentially viewing everything from our medical histories to our old banking records. “Let’s say that a quantum computer is deployed in 2024,” says Rescorla. “Everything you’ve done on the Internet before 2024 will be open for discussion.”

Even the most bullish proponents of quantum computing say we’ll have to wait a while until the machines are powerful enough to crack encryption keys, and many doubt it will happen this decade — if at all.

But the risk is real enough that the Internet is being readied for a makeover, to limit the damage if Q-day happens. That means switching to stronger cryptographic systems, or cryptosystems. Fortunately, decades of research in theoretical computer science has turned up plenty of candidates. These post-quantum algorithms seem impervious to attack: even using mathematical approaches that take quantum computing into account, programmers have not yet found ways to defeat them in a reasonable time.

Which of these algorithms will become standard could depend in large part on a decision soon to be announced by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

In 2015, the US National Security Agency (NSA) announced that it considered current cryptosystems vulnerable, and advised US businesses and the government to replace them. The following year, NIST invited computer scientists globally to submit candidate post-quantum algorithms to a process in which the agency would test their quality, with the help of the entire crypto community. It has since winnowed down its list from 65 to 15. In the next couple of months, it will select a few winners, and then publish official versions of those algorithms. Similar organizations in other countries, from France to China, will make their own announcements.

But that will be only the beginning of a long process of updating the world’s cryptosystems — a change that will affect every aspect of our lives online, although the hope

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