A group responsible for vetting a more secure and trustworthy Georgia voting system struggled Wednesday to reach agreement over whether to pursue hand-marked paper ballots or touchscreen machines that print ballots. The group of election officials, state lawmakers, political party representatives and voters debated the state’s options to replace its 16-year-old electronic voting machines but didn’t make any decisions Wednesday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Commission, created by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp last spring when he was secretary of state, plans to hold its final meeting in early January to make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly. Though the commission failed to reach a consensus, its members heard overwhelming support from the public for hand-marked paper ballots, which voters would bubble in with a pen and then insert into scanning machines. Of 27 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, only one — a county elections director — said he wanted a system other than manually filled-in paper ballots.
“People have lost trust in Georgia’s voting system,” Vicki Krugman, a voter from Oconee County, told the commission during its meeting in Macon. “We need hand-marked ballots. It’s the only verifiable system. We’re in an era of some very serious problems with hacking, and they’re not going away.”
Georgia’s current direct-recording electronic voting system lacks a paper ballot that could be verified by voters and checked by election officials in the event of a recount or audit. There are only four states left that rely entirely on election systems that lack a voter-verified paper audit trail — Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana and South Carolina.