Two major verifiable voting opponents suffered dramatically different defeats in the Tuesday, August 10 Georgia run-off elections. Georganna Sinkfield routed two-time Secretary of State candidate, Gail Buckner, in the Democratic run-off for Secretary of State by a margin of 62-38%. At the same time Nathan Deal edged former Secretary of State candidate, Karen Handel, in the Republican gubernatorial primary by a scant .4% or less than 2500 votes out of nearly 580,000 votes cast.
While Sinkfield is not a vocal proponent of verifiable voting, Buckner was the only legislator in the entire Georgia General Assembly on public record as opposing all four 2006 statewide verifiable voting and precinct level audit legislation initiatives. Specifically, as a representative:
n She opposed the HB 790 audit procedure bill in the House Government Affairs committee;
n She opposed SB 500 precinct audit provisions in the House Government Affairs committee;
n She voted on the House floor against Karla Drenner's SB500 amendment that would have required audit trails on voting machines used throughout the state;
n She ridiculed opponent, Angela Moore, in the 2006 Democratic primary for supporting the SB591 vote count bill.
No other legislator opposed more than one of these initiatives but Rep. Buckner opposed all of them, even taking on her on fellow Democrats in doing so.
Buckner was defeated for the office of Secretary of State in 2006 by Karen Handel, who was then a strong advocate of restoring auditable voting in Georgia. After her election, Handel completely reversed her position and now claims that Georgia has the most secure elections in the country. Handel changed her position while accepting roughly $25,000 in direct contributions from the voting machine vendor lobbyist. Handel also received untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in indirect contributions raised by a former partner in the lobbying firm, Rob Simms, who was also one of her gubernatorial campaign finance managers.
Although the miniscule .4% margin qualifies the race for an automatic recount, Handel declined the recount and conceded. Ironically, the voting machines that she now advocates cannot recount a race but can only reprint previous unverifiable results. Handel was more aware than anyone that the machines will always produce the same as the original results during a so-called recount. In addition, absentee ballots are typically rescanned and not manually recounted so if there was an error in the tabulator on Election Day that same error would be present in a recount.
Handel's loss, despite an endorsement by Sarah Palin, is attributed to several factors including her "scorched earth" tactics where she accused four of her opponents of ethical or moral failures and alienated fellow Republicans including some of her county chairmen. Ironically, it was her own ethics issues, several of which were described by the Political Vine, a Republican oriented electronic newsletter, that ultimately led to her defeat. VoterGA also documented the undue influence of the voting machine vendor lobbyist on the Secretary of State's office during her tenure as well as several instances of improperly conducted investigations in cases that involved Georgia's unverifiable voting machines. These cases eventually led to Articles of Impeachment filed in the Georgia General Assembly against Handel's Inspector General, Shawn LaGrua. Links to that research and documents were widely distributed through the internet to local Democrat and Republican voters even though most state and local news outlets suppressed them. Exposure of this material and the ability to circumvent media suppression were likely key deciding factors in the miniscule margin between victory and defeat for this gubernatorial run-off.