After Georgia’s 2018 elections focused stinging criticism on the state’s outdated election system, a study commission voted Thursday to recommend the use of machines that record votes and print a record. Members of the panel tasked with considering a potential replacement chose that option over hand-marked paper ballots favored by cybersecurity experts. The Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections, or SAFE, Commission voted 13-3 for a draft of a report to be sent to lawmakers, who are expected to decide on criteria for a new system during the legislative session that begins Monday. The commission includes lawmakers, political party representatives, voters and election officials. … Verified Voting, a nonprofit group that advocates ensuring the accuracy of elections, last week urged the commission to recommend hand-marked paper ballots. “A paper ballot that is indelibly marked by hand and physically secured from the moment of casting is the most reliable record of voter intent,” president Marian Schneider wrote in a Jan. 4 letter. “A hand-marked paper ballot is the only kind of record not vulnerable to software errors, configuration errors, or hacking.”
She cited a 2018 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, “which represents the nation’s best understanding of election security and integrity,” that supports hand-marked paper ballots.
Another letter sent to the commission Monday and signed by two dozen computer science and security experts echoes those arguments.
The commission’s recommendations also say the new system should be in place in time for the 2020 election and the state should require post-election audits to be conducted before results are certified.