Georgia election officials are bringing back paper ballots – at least temporarily – in the city of Conyers local election, providing a glimpse of what may one day replace the state’s aging voting machines. The on-loan voting equipment went into action last week in Conyers, a small city just outside of Atlanta, as early voting started for the Nov. 7 election. With the system being used in the pilot program, called the ExpressVote Universal Voting System, voters are issued a paper ballot that they insert into a touch-screen voting machine, prints their choices onto the ballot. Voters can then review their selections on the paper ballot before inserting it into a tabulation machine, which scans the ballots and secures them in a locked box. If there’s a mistake, the voter is issued a new ballot.
“Our voters are spoiled now,” said Cynthia Welch, supervisor of elections in Rockdale County. “My poll workers and my voters are saying, ‘Do we have to go back to the old system next year?’ And my answer is, ‘Yes, unfortunately, we will have to go back.’
“It’s like test driving a new car for a whole week. You get used to it and then you have to take it back,” she added.
Georgia is likely still years away from replacing its voting machines. Lawmakers last overhauled the state’s election system in 2002 when they agreed to spend $54 million on what is called direct recording electronic equipment, which is what voters now see at the polls.