Georgia: Panel backs new voting machines over hand-marked paper ballots | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A panel formed by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp voted Thursday to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a computerized system that prints paper ballots, despite opposition from a crowd of voters who said paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure and less expensive. The endorsement of ballot printers over hand-marked paper ballots will carry weight with the Georgia General Assembly when it considers buying a new statewide voting system during this year’s legislative session, which begins Monday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission voted 13-3 to recommend a voting system with touchscreens and printers, called ballot-marking devices, that would cost taxpayers well over $100 million. A system using paper ballots bubbled in with a pen would cost around $30 million. The vote came the same week Kemp announced he was hiring former state Rep. Chuck Harper, a lobbyist for the state’s current election vendor, Election Systems & Software, as his deputy chief of staff. The company sells the same kind of voting system that the commission recommended. … Except for election officials and lobbyists, every voter who made public comments Thursday supported hand-marked paper ballots. County election supervisors backed ballot-marking devices, saying they’re similar to the touchscreens that voters are accustomed to.