GEORGIA ELECTIONS STILL RANKED AS WORST IN AMERICA

GEORGIA ELECTION PROCEDURES HAVE BEEN RANKED AS THE WORST IN THE COUNTRY FOR CANDIDATE BALLOT ACCESS AS WELL AS VOTING SYSTEM RELIABILITY AND RECOUNT PREPAREDNESS – FIND OUT WHY:

100 Reasons Why Georgians Need New Voting Machines

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50 Reasons to Eliminate Georgia’s Unfair Candidate Petitioning Requirements

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50 Reasons to Eliminate Georgia’s Unfair Candidate Petitioning Requirements

 Unequal Candidate Treatment

Georgia has most restrictive petitioning requirements in the country according to Ballot Access News which stated in May, 2003: “Georgia is the showcase example of why the Voter Freedom Act [H.R. 2268] is needed.”

Petitioning requirements are 10 times more restrictive than the national average of all other states combined for certain offices such as U.S. House

Georgians cannot run as local candidates for a partisan office in any standard election unless they gather petitions or run as a Democrat or Republican

Georgia currently requires roughly 20,000 signatures for an independent candidate to place their name on the ballot for a U.S Congressional race

Georgia currently requires roughly 60,000 signatures for an independent candidate to place their name on the ballot for a statewide race

As a result of Georgia’s overly restrictive ballot access laws, nearly 70% of all state legislature races have only one candidate

Historical Inability of Candidates to Gain Ballot Access

In 1996, the U.S. Taxpayers Party, collected nearly 65,000 signatures for Presidential candidate, Howard Phillips, to be on the November election ballot, however, the state denied him ballot access and invalidated many signatures citing an unstated requirement prohibiting the notary from collecting any of the signatures;

No Congressional candidate has ever qualified for ballot in a regular Georgia election since ballot access laws were last changed in 1964

All other states except Georgia have had U.S. Congressional candidates since 2000

Although Chuck Baldwin, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader were on enough state ballots to hypothetically win the presidency in 2008 none were allowed on the Georgia ballot

In 2012, Constitution Party presidential candidate was denied access to the Georgia ballot even though Constitution Party Presidential candidates had been on the ballot in 41, 42, 34 and 37 states in the previous four Presidential election cycles

Dozens of candidates have tried and failed to collect enough verified petition signatures to have their name placed on the ballot so that Georgia voters have the opportunity to elect them

The small handful of candidates who have succeeded in collecting enough signatures to gain ballot access were unable to be fully competitive in their elections due to the amount of time and money expended simply to get their name on the ballot

Excessive Barriers Compared to Other States

Georgia has the worst state ballot accessibility for political parties

  • The barrier required by Georgia (AL and CT) that a party must receive 20% of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial or presidential race to run a full slate of candidates is ten times the national median of about 2% ;
  • Georgia is worst in the nation at political party qualification (w/ N.J. and TN) having no parties qualify in last 25 years;
  • Georgia is one of only two states (with IL) that does not qualify all of the party nominees in the next election when a candidate of a party meets vote ballot access requirements;

Georgia has the worst state ballot accessibility for U.S. House races

  • The barrier requiring signed petitions equaling at least 5% of previous votes cast is ten times higher than the average requirements in all states;
  • The barrier is about 50% higher than that of the next most restrictive state (IL) and 250% higher than the third worst states;
  • No third party U.S. House candidate has ever met the 5% requirement since 1943 when laws were passed;

Georgia has the second state worst ballot accessibility for State House races

  • The barrier requiring signed petitions equaling at least 5% of registered voters is only exceeded by one state (IL) if its total votes cast are more than half the number of registered voters;
  • The barrier resulted in only 39% of all State House races being contested by both a Republican and a Democrat;
  • The barrier resulted in only 44% of legislative races contested by both a Democrat and Republican in 2004, 17 points below the 61% national average;

Georgia has the second state worst ballot accessibility for State Senate races

  • The barrier requiring signed petitions equaling at least 5% of registered voters is only exceeded by one state (IL) if its total votes cast are more than half the number of registered voters;
  • The barrier resulted in only 59% of all State Senate races being contested by both a Republican and a Democrat;
  • The barrier resulted in only 44% of legislative races contested by both Democrats and Republicans in 2004, 17 points below the 61% national average;

Georgia has the fourth worst state ballot accessibility for U.S. Senate races

  • The barrier requiring signed petitions equaling at least 1% of registered voters is only exceeded by NC, WY and OK;

Georgia is worst in the nation for political party presidential qualification having an average of only 1.2 third party presidential candidates on the ballot since 1972;

  • Georgia received this low national ranking even though U.S. President races have some of the most lenient restrictions in Georgia;
  • he barrier requiring signed petitions equaling at least 1% of registered voters is only exceeded by NC, WY and AL;

Georgia is worst in the nation for political party senatorial qualification (w/ Ark.) having only one party qualify for Senate races in the last 50 years;

    • Georgia received this low national ranking even though U.S. Senate races have some of the most lenient restrictions in Georgia;

Georgia has the fourth worst ballot accessibility for U.S. President races

Inconsistency with Neighboring States

Legislation to remove all petitioning requirements was successfully implemented in Florida in 1999

Tennessee requires only a couple dozen signatures for most candidates to gain ballot access so that they can run for office

South Carolina limits its statewide petitioning requirements to about 15% of the number Georgia requires and it currently recognizes 11 different political parties

Unnecessary Costs & Complexity

Since the 1964 ballot access laws were last changed, counties must incur the costs and time to validate each petition signature against the signatures on voter rolls

Cost savings to the state and the counties can be achieved by completely eliminating all petitioning process requirements

There is no significant cost to implement the legislation other than reprinting of the code books, which is done periodically anyway

Removal of the petitioning requirements would greatly simplify the election code more than any other single thing that could be done

Increased Petitioning Difficulties

As population has increased, roughly five times more petition signatures are required now to run for office than in 1943 when the ballot access laws were first implemented

Citizens today fear the new threat of identity theft and are more reluctant to sign petitions

Counties often throw out thousands of valid petition signatures if each petition page is not notarized or differences in handwriting occur over time

Lost Independent Candidate Votes

In the 2006 elections, Fulton County initially lost 238 of 240 votes cast for State House 65th district candidate James “Woody” Holmes.

In 2008, the official Georgia Election results failed to count over 130 of the 1,300 write-in votes cast for Constitution Party Presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin.

In 2008, the Georgia elections results failed to count all 75 voted certified by Cherokee County election officials for Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office never responded to the Constitution Party complaint regarding the uncounted votes for presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin

From November 13th to the 14th of 2008 the official Georgia totals of all write-in candidates for U.S. President, including Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, were reduced by two thirds.

Legal Concerns

On November 26, 2008, independent U.S House candidate Faye Coffield filed suit in U.S. District Court in Georgia, asking that the Georgia ballot access law for independent candidates for U.S. House of Representatives be declared unconstitutional

The Coalition for Free and Open Elections filed a supportive amicus brief on behalf of Ms. Coffield

Ms. Coffield appealed her case to the U.S. Supreme Court which declined to hear it

The state of Georgia has consistently incurred the expenditure of taxpayer funds to defend itself against ballot access lawsuits brought by candidates and political parties

As of 2014, a lawsuit by the Green Party and Constitution Party for ballot access is still pending in federal court and has received an initial favorable ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals

False Prosecution of Petitioners

In 2002, a Green Party petitioner was falsely arrested in a park for soliciting signatures.

In 2010, former Chatham County Commissioner, Jeff Rayno was falsely accused without evidence of petition forgery by the Secretary of State’s Inspector General, Shawn Lagrua

In 2010, Secretary of State Karen Handel cast the deciding vote to refer Jeff Rayno to the Attorney General’s office for a petition forgery investigation despite the fact that no evidence of forgery existed

Legislative Obstruction

In 2005, Rep. David Ralston introduced H.B. 927 to reduce the petitioning requirements in Georgia but during his tenure as House Speaker he has done nothing to pass comparable legislation even though he allegedly was for reductions in 2005

In 2013, H.B. 494 was introduced to eliminate all petitioning requirements and move Georgia “from worst to first” in terms of ballot access restrictions nationally

Petitioning removal is non-partisan as exemplified by H.B. 494 which was introduced by Rusty Kidd, (I), co-sponsored by Alan Powell (R) and Stephanie Benfield (D)

In 2013, Brian Kemp’s Election Advisory Council (EAC) recommended reductions Georgia’s petitioning requirements

In spite of its benefits and the recommendations of his own Election Advisory Council, Secretary of State. Brian Kemp opposed H.B. 494

Speaker David Ralston & then Gov. Affairs chairman, Mark Hamilton, refused to give H.B. 494 a hearing in committee

Mark Hamilton instead introduced H.B. 949 with petition reductions that would have moved Georgia only from 50th to the 49th most restrictive state in the country

Hamilton eventually stripped that language from a substitute election bill that passed the House with nearly all other Election Advisory Council recommendations

100 Reasons Why Georgians Need New Voting Machines

 Inadequate Voter Verification

Voters cannot verify that the votes shown on the screen are actually recorded on the memory card used to tabulate the votes on Election Day

Voters cannot verify that the votes shown on the screen are actually recorded internally within the machine

There is currently no official ballot of record that documents the votes cast by each voter in a Georgia election

Voters no longer have any chain of custody with their actual ballot prior to casting it

Insufficient Audit Capabilities

Precinct managers cannot audit the candidate totals produced by the machines on Election Day to ensure that the counts for each candidate in a given race are accurate

County and state election officials cannot audit the totals produced by the machines on Election Day to ensure that the counts for each candidate in a given race are accurate

The voting a machines do not have a standard Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) that was available on other machines in 2002 when Georgia’s machines were purchased

If a county elections official chose to manipulate precinct results on the county elections server no audit trail is produced of the manipulation

If a state elections official chose to manipulate county results on the state elections server no audit trail is produced of the manipulation

Inappropriate Recount Capabilities

No direct evidence of voter intent is retained for a recount so the voting machines can only re-accumulate and reprint the same unverifiable results previously reported

Absentee ballots are rescanned during a recount so if there was an error in the tabulator that error will not be detected in a recount

Every electronic vote recount has always produced, and will always produce, the same results as the original count according to the deposition of Professor Britain Williams, who oversaw testing of the machines when they were acquired

Lack of Transparency

The voting machines and tabulation servers use proprietary software that is not open for public inspection

The actual election data on CDs and other devices is stored with proprietary property of the vendor and does not belong to the counties, state or people of Georgia

The state’s expert witness, Ray Cobb, of Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Center for Election Systems (CES), admitted in deposition that he is not aware of the format used to store votes cast on the voting cards, the voting machines or the tabulation servers.

Questionable Georgia Election Results

In 2002, 3,256 test votes were included in the live election results in Cobb County

In 2005, 285 blank voted ballots were recorded in a Cobb County SPLOST referendum that was decided by 114 votes. The blank voted ballots were accepted even though the SPLOST was the only contest on the ballot

In 2011, 95 blank voted ballots were recorded in a Cobb County SPLOST referendum that was decided by 79 votes. The blank voted ballots were accepted even though the SPLOST was the only contest on the ballot

Roughly $1.4 billion in taxes were assessed against the people of Cobb County as a result of the lost votes on the blank voted ballots in the 2005 and 2011 Cobb SPLOSTS

In 2008, 947 test votes were included in live election results for Lowndes County and a voting machine technician who was not present during the accumulation was charged for the problem

In 2010, a GA Supreme Court candidate got 733,770 votes (35%) to earn a runoff position in a 3 way race but she did not campaign, advertise, have a web site, take donations, respond to surveys, accept media requests or register full contact data

In their first use in 2002, the voting systems produced gubernatorial and U.S. Senate race results that are nationally recognized as the biggest upsets in the country.

In December of 2008, a watchdog group named Velvet Revolution took out an ad in the AJC claiming that in 2002 one U.S. Senator stole the election from another U.S. Senator and there is no way to prove whether or not their allegation is true

Vote Counting Vulnerabilities

In 2008, the results of 25,000 Douglas Co. Election Day ballots were placed into a spreadsheet, reviewed by an Election Board member at his home and then re-entered the next day into the country servers

In 2012, counties began uploading election results for publication using a procedure that could introduce fraud and errors into the county servers prior to certification

Many county election results are now published by SOE software, a Tampa based subsidiary owned by SCYTL, a Spanish conglomerate

Our voting machines can be programmed to count improperly while in Test Mode and Election Mode

Our voting machines can be programmed to count improperly during a certain date range

Our voting machines can be programmed to count improperly after a certain number of ballots are processed

Our voting machines can be programmed to count improperly after a receiving an abnormal combination of votes on a ballot

Our county tabulation servers can be programmed to produce incorrect results after receiving a signal or false results via a modem or memory card

Our voting machines can produce incorrect results after receiving a virus or hack during accumulation

Questionable Certifications

No certifications of any kind have ever been produced for any of the six machine types procured during 2001 and used during the 2002 election

Former Secretary of State Cox claims to have certified voting machines in 2001 and 2002 even though they had no independent audit trail of the votes cast as required by law

Prof. Williams, the evaluator during the 2001-2002 time period, admitted in deposition that:

The machine software was patched in 2002 before the election

The ‘0808’ patch required re-certification

The re-certification was not performed

Failure to recertify that patch is a violation of law

A Dec. 3, 2002 letter from S.O.S. office to Diebold indicated that a month after the office conducted the elections they were still awaiting:

“A verifiable analysis of the overall impact of the patch to the voting system.

“Confirmation that the statewide voting system is appropriately certified,”

“Confirmation that the ‘0808’ patch was not grounds for requiring system to be recertified at the national and state level “

The tabulation servers were certified in 2002 with a security flaw in that they had hard coded, visible passwords for administration access as identified by the Johns Hopkins University study and acknowledged by Professor Williams in deposition

Federal certification conducted by “Independent Testing Authorities” is not independent because those authorities are funded by the voting machine vendors as acknowledged by Professor Williams in deposition.

Questionable Testing

In 2001 and 2002, KSU Professor Williams tested candidate voting machines and reported on them favorably even though they did not have an independent audit trail of each vote cast as the law required

In 2006, the Kennesaw State University Center for Election Systems tested the Diebold AccuVote TSX machines used for the 3 precinct audit trial pilot and reported favorably even though they were later found by the Secretary of State’s 2007 Audit Trail Pilot Project report to have violated the law

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) concluded that: “The [National Institute of Standards and Testing] NIST and the [EAC Security and Transparency Subcommittee] STS do not know how to write testable requirements to satisfy that the software in a DRE is correct.”

When asked, Professor Williams corroborated the conclusion by responding: “That was written probably by Ron Rivest to his chairman of that STS subcommittee and if he thinks NIST and the STS don’t know how to write those requirements, then I don’t have any reason to think they can.”

The Software Qualification Test Report produced by Ciber Inc. for federal certification shows that no penetration analysis has been performed on the equipment to determine the methods and entry points for which they would be vulnerable to attack

Legal Concerns

The Georgia voting machines were required by law to have an independent audit trail of each vote cast when purchased on May 3, 2002 and officials admit that they do not have it [See GA21-2-301(B) of the 2001 GA Election Code]

Secretary of State Cathy Cox failed to include the legal requirement for an independent audit trail of each vote cast when she issued the 2002 voting equipment Request for Proposal

In 2013, a Cobb Superior Court judge ruled that a candidate has “no compelling reason” to view absentee ballots in an election office after a candidate competed in an election

Jeffrey Dean, a chief programmer and former Diebold board member was convicted on 23 counts of fraud and embezzlement in Washington state

The State Election Board and Georgia Attorney General were given a copy of the conviction papers for Jeffrey Dean but too no action

The April, 2007 Audit Trail Pilot Report produced by the office of the Secretary of State admitted that the Diebold AccuVote TSX audit trail used in three precincts during the 2006 election does not conform to Georgia law that mandates secrecy of the ballot

Lack of Conformance to Federal and State Guidelines

The tabulation servers do not comply with 1990 federal Voting Systems that require: “All types of equipment shall incorporate appropriate physical provisions to prevent fraudulent manipulation of the vote recording, counting and reporting processes”. The tabulation servers lack the audit trail capabilities to prevent such fraudulent manipulation as Professor William admitted in deposition

The tabulation servers, for the same reasons shown above, do not comply with the 2002 federal Security Standards that state: ”Ultimately, the objectives of the security standards for voting systems are …to protect the system from intentional manipulation and fraud, and from malicious mischief;“ For the same reasons shown above

The tabulation servers, for the same reasons shown above, do not comply with the Secretary of State Certification policy 590-8-1-.01, on Certification of Voting Systems that indicates certified voting machines will conform to these guidelines

Questionable Results in Other States

In 2010, Alvin Greene won a U.S. Senate primary in South Carolina. 60-40% winner over Vic Rawl, although he created no web site, had no campaign and lost the verifiable absentee ballot count by a 55-45% margin to Vic Rawl who ran an extensive, professional campaign

Diebold optical scan tabulators were found to have recorded 16,084 negative votes from a memory card in the 2000 Florida Presidential Election.

The Humboldt Co. Election Transparency Project revealed a Diebold software glitch where 200 ballots were deleted from the original certified results in California

In a Florida 2006 U.S. House race, electronic voting machines recorded 15% undervotes in a key race and had no audit trail to confirm the results

Many states have reported instances where a voter selected a candidate on the touch screen but the screen interpreted the selection as being made for the opposing candidate on the Ballot Summary screen

Other State Actions Taken

States including Maryland, California, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida & Colorado have taken action to ban, decertify or replace Diebold electronic voting machines identical or nearly identical to the ones we use

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 137-0 to replace voting machines that are nearly identical to ours with optical scan equipment

The state of California initiated a criminal investigation against Diebold and received an out of court settlement of approximately $2.5 million

The state of Ohio filed for punitive damages against Diebold after election officials found accumulation discrepancies and Diebold admitted to a “critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point”.

The Attorney General of Maryland filed an $8.5 million lawsuit against Diebold.

KSU Expert Witness Admissions

Professor Williams, who oversaw the evaluations of the voting equipment in 2002, admitted in a sworn deposition that: “If a machine itself was reporting inaccurately on a given election, nobody would know it”.

Professor Williams also admitted in a sworn deposition that Gems database of election results that is used at the county and state levels can be altered without detection as explained in the Compuware report conducted for the state of Ohio.

Former KSU Center for Elections Director acknowledged under oath in deposition that our voting machines do not have an independent audit trail of each vote cast

Georgia Governmental & Academic Sources Positions

A May 2008 Georgia Tech Security Study of the Processes and Procedures Surrounding Electronic Voting in Georgia recommended to: “Study the feasibility of voting equipment offering either non-electronic election auditability or provable electronic vote tallying accuracy

A 21st Century Voting Commission study concluded in 2001 prior to the machine acquisition: “The chosen system shall have the capability to produce an independent and paper audit trail of every ballot cast”

A Senate Slogo Committee concluded prior to the 2002 machine acquisition: “A paper trail must be established in case of system failure”

The Fulton Co. Board of Registrations and Elections concluded in 2001 prior to the acquisition that: “Paper ballots are necessary for a recount”

State Commissioned Studies

The DRE Technical Security Assessment performed by Compuware for the state of Ohio explains on Page 64 that, for the Diebold Accuvote TS series machines, “There is a risk that an unauthorized person with access to the GEMS Server can access the database and change ballot definition files and elections results”. Page 47 states that: “A tester was able to view records in the database with a viewer. The tester also altered counts and deleted audit log records using MS Access.” Page 72 states that: “Risk Likelihood”, “Impact Rating” and “Risk Level” for the security concerns mentioned are “High”.

The same Compuware study also found that Diebold machines had the highest number of security risks of any machines evaluated

A study conducted by the Nevada Electronic Systems Division chief reported to the Secretary of State that Diebold machines as tested by Johns Hopkins were “a legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process”

An SAIC study commissioned by the Governor of Maryland found 26 critical security flaws out of 328 for the Diebold AccuVote TS

A RABA Technologies Study commissioned by the Maryland General Assembly found Diebold had “considerable security risks” that could cause “moderate to severe disruption in an election”

A California Voting Systems Panel study identified 23 security measures that required attention and recommended (8-0) for Diebold decertification

A subsequent California study led to the permanent ban of Diebold voting equipment after Diebold admitted that the tabulation server records could be altered or deleted without detection

Corroborating Academic Studies

A 2004 Free Congress Study ranked Georgia last in the country for system reliability and recount preparedness, giving the state an F- on a national average of C+. No significant changes have been made in voting equipment made since then

A Johns Hopkins Univ. study determined that: “With respect to the Diebold AccuVote TS and TSx, we found gross design and programming errors”

The same John Hopkins study also found a security flaw involving hard coded administration passwords that are visible to the programmer and constitute a security flaw also present in the Georgia voting machines as admitted by Professor Williams

A Princeton University study demonstrated live on its web site how a Diebold Voting machine could produce results different than what was actually entered by voters

A demonstration on HBO’s’ Hacking Democracy showed how county and state tabulation server results could be changed by a non-technical person without detection as explained in the Compuware study conducted for Ohio

A demonstration on HBO’s Hacking Democracy showed how an optical scan tabulator could be hacked to produce incorrect results without the hacker ever touching the machine

A University of Cal. Berkeley study corroborated the hacking demonstration shown on HBO and found more security flaws related to the code interpreter

Costs of Electronic Voting Machines vs. Optical Scan Tabulators

Georgia’s 30,000 expensive electronic voting machines could be replaced by roughly 3,000 simple optical scan tabulators and ballot markers for the visually impaired thus saving taxpayers millions of dollars per year in testing, certification ,logistics and maintenance costs

A 2010 study commissioned by the Maryland legislature determined that the state could achieve a complete Return on Investment in about 8 years if they purchased optical scan voting machines to replace their electronic voting equipment that are nearly identical to ours

The 10 year useful life of our voting machines was exceeded in 2012 and the repair costs incurred by the taxpayers continue to climb

Public Opinion

A 2011 Election Advisory Council town hall series conducted by the Secretary of State’s office found that the verifiable voting was the top concern of the Georgia public along with fair and equal ballot access

A 2006 Atlanta Journal Constitution survey found that voting machine security was listed by 88% of Georgia voters as an issue of concern, the sixth highest ranking issue of all state and national issues

Professor Williams acknowledged public outcry to the Secretary of state’s office in 2002 when he admitted in deposition: “We were getting hit from all directions”

In his sworn deposition, former Asst. Dir. Michael Barnes authenticated Emails he received during the 2002 evaluation stating that machines “have no external audit trail for voters to ensure that their vote is electronically recorded for the candidate they actually chose”

Secretary of State Conclusions and Comments

Secretary Handel’s 2006 Basics white paper concluded: “The electronic voting machines currently used in Georgia’s elections are already obsolete”

Secretary Handel’s 2006 Basics white paper concluded: “Voters should have the ability to review their ballot…”

Secretary Handel’s 2006 Basics white paper concluded: “Procedures must be established for audits of elections to verify that the electronic vote totals are accurate”

Secretary Handel’s 2006 Basics white paper concluded: “The paper audit trail should be the determining factor in discrepancies in the vote and should be the ballot of record”

By 2009, Secretary Handel had reversed her position on the voting machines while accepting roughly $25,000 in campaign contributions from friends and family of the voting machine vendor lobbyist, Massey and Bowers.

In his first 2010 debate Georgia Christian Alliance Secretary of State Brian Kemp said that if the legislature introduced a bill to fix the verifiable voting problem “he would lead the charge” but reversed his position 3 weeks later when the bill was introduced

Georgia Supreme Court Judicial Decisions

In allowing unverifiable voting to continue, the Georgia Supreme Court ignored all U.S. Supreme Court case law for ballot counting and recounting. That case law unanimously requires strict scrutiny to be applied to the fundamental right of voting

The Georgia Supreme Court also ignored 41 disputes of fact in denying the right to trial of the Plaintiffs

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that 17 conclusions of fact conflicting with the evidence in a lower court decision would not warrant a trial

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that “voters must assume the risk of necessarily different procedures” even though our absentee ballot and election day voting procedures are unnecessarily different and such a constraint would be a violation of the Equal Protection clauses of the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions.