Georgia: Lawmakers prepare for fight over switch to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Battles over election integrity that helped define Georgia’s race for governor will play out at the Capitol this year, when state legislators plan to replace the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines and review voting access laws. The multimillion-dollar purchase of a more secure statewide voting system is a priority for this year’s legislative session, which starts Monday. Legislators generally agree that the state should start using paper ballots to replace the all-digital touchscreen system in place since 2002, but they strongly differ over what kind of paper-based system to buy. Intense debates over voter disenfranchisement are also certain to arise. A bill has already been filed to curb mass voter registration cancellations, and other measures could address ballot cancellations, voting hours, early voting times, precinct closures and district boundaries.

But the state’s planned switch to paper ballots will command lawmakers’ attention after a federal judge wrote in a ruling in the fall that state election officials “had buried their heads in the sand” about the risk that the state’s voting system could be hacked.

Then on Election Day in November, some voters reported that the machines flipped their votes from one candidate to another, and a lawsuit blamed the voting machines for suspiciously low vote totals in the lieutenant governor’s race.

Now, the Georgia General Assembly will have to pick between paper ballots bubbled in by hand and paper ballots filled in by a computer.

… Hand-marked paper ballots would preserve voters’ intent and safeguard elections, said Marian Schneider, the president of Verified Voting, a Philadelphia-based organization that supports accurate and verifiable elections.

“The narrative of rigged elections is so destructive to democracy,” Schneider said. “With a paper ballot, you have an opportunity to ensure that the vote recorded by the software is accurate.”

Verified Voting sent a letter last week urging members of the SAFE Commission to endorse hand-marked paper ballots, saying they’re less vulnerable to software errors and hacking than ballot-marking devices.

Full Article: Elections and paper voting debated by Georgia legislators.

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