A lawsuit that calls into question the accuracy and integrity of past elections is working its way through the system. In the meantime, a bipartisan group of Georgia lawmakers is considering changes that might make such issues moot with regard to future ones. For the last 15 years, Georgia has used touch-screen voting machines, most of which do not provide hard-copy records of vote counts. (The machines used in Muscogee County, as most local voters are aware, provide printed as well as electronic records of vote totals.) One of the advisers at the Thursday committee hearing was Susan Greenhalgh of Verified Voting, an advisory group founded by computer scientists which AP identified as “a non-partisan, non-profit organization that pushes for measures to make elections accurate, transparent and verifiable.” (Greenhalgh is not affiliated with any of the for-profit voter tech companies also represented at the committee meeting.)
One of the virtues of hard-copy balloting, Greenhalgh told the panel — and this is so self-evident we tend to forget it — is that it’s accurate even when there’s a technical breakdown, including one as simple as a power outage. Among many options, she recommended one already in use in many other states: paper ballots that can be read by an electronic scanner, which would also have the advantage of lower cost as most polling places would need just one machine.
Revamping Georgia’s voting process in time for the 2018 elections might or might not be a long shot. Having a plan and some recommendations ready to present to the 2018 session of the General Assembly shouldn’t be.