A unique effort is underway in Georgia to safeguard elections by taking voting machines back to the future. “The most secure elections in the world are conducted with a piece of paper and a pencil,” said Georgia State Rep. Scot Turner. “It allows you to continue into the future to verify the result.” Turner has proposed a bill that would retire Georgia’s electronic touch-screen voting machines and switch to paper ballots that voters would fill out and then be counted by optical scan machines. The technology has been in use for decades to score standardized tests for grade-school students.
Articles about voting issues in Georgia.
As evidence mounts that Russia is again trying to interfere in U.S. votes, Georgia’s top elections official faces new scrutiny of his oversight of the state’s voting system. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor, tells voters the state’s elections system is secure and that he doesn’t need additional help from Washington to defend against hackers. But he’s also open to a paper-based voting system, which his critics from both parties say is essential to ensuring the state’s touch-screen voting machines can’t be undermined. And he’s come under fire for past lapses that have left confidential voter data vulnerable. For Kemp, who launched a statewide bus tour Monday, the fears about the state’s voting network are misguided. He said in an interview he’s “completely confident” in the integrity of Georgia’s election system, and brushed aside concerns the state isn’t doing enough to protect the ballots.
Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office will “instruct” local elections officials to automatically update addresses for people who move within the same county as part of a settlement reached in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Georgia against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections. In the short term, the mutual agreement means the information of 35,000 Georgians will be updated. It will also make voting easier in the future for people who move within the same county, said Sean Young, legal director with the ACLU of Georgia. “If someone’s address isn’t updated they may show up at the wrong polling place,” Young said. “They’re supposed to be given an opportunity at that point to go ahead and vote and have the opportunity to change their address at the polling site. But sometimes what happens is the voter gets frustrated and then they’re turned away. They look for their correct polling place and they may not have enough time to find the correct polling place.”
Georgia: Legislation would replace Georgia electronic voting with paper | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Elections in Georgia could return to paper ballots. A bill recently introduced in the Georgia General Assembly calls for the state to scrap its 16-year-old touch-screen voting system and replace it with a paper-based system. Paper ballots, used by about 70 percent of the nation, are more secure than electronic machines because they can’t be hacked, said state Rep. Scot Turner, the sponsor of House Bill 680. Currently, Georgia’s 27,000 touch screens leave no paper record of how people voted, making it impossible to audit elections for accuracy or to conduct verifiable recounts.
Two of the most prominent Republicans in the race for governor locked in a war of words Thursday over a proposal that would replace the state’s aging voting system with paper ballots. It was the most public rift yet between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the two candidates in the governor’s race with statewide victories under their belts. And their feud, which escalated throughout the day, signaled the debate over the 16-year-old touch-screen voting network could play a larger role in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal. It started when Cagle announced he would back a measure to scrap the state’s touch-screen voting machines and largely replace them with a paper-based system. He told WABE that a paper-ballot trail ensures “no games” could be played with votes.
The effort to retire Georgia’s aging, electronic voting machines got a boost Wednesday from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, leader of the state Senate, who said the legislature must act “in haste” to setup a new paper ballot system. “I think it is important that we have a paper ballot trail that ensures that accuracy is there, and that there are no games that potentially could be played,” Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor, said in an interview with WABE. Georgia is one of just a few states that exclusively use voting machines without a paper trail. Cybersecurity experts agree it exposes the system to potential doubt, hacks and glitches. “I’m super excited to have Lt. Gov. Cagle on board,” said Republican Rep. Scot Turner, the lead sponsor of a bi-partisan bill in the House that would require the state move to a paper ballot system, which could be audited.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Saturday the elections server mishap at Kennesaw State University was caused by bad management at the school. Kemp, a candidate for governor making a campaign stop in Gainesville to talk to the Hall County Republican Party, said the decision to wipe a server critical to an elections-related lawsuit against the secretary of state and his office was made by the school and was “really incompetence on their part that we had no knowledge of.” Election reform advocates filed a suit against the secretary of state last July 3. Four days later, server managers at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University wiped the server holding information critical to the lawsuit, which was filed over the state’s aging elections equipment.
After Joyce Chandler and Brian Strickland, two white Republican state representatives in metro Atlanta, barely won re-election against Democrats in 2014, their colleagues in the General Assembly didn’t take it as a sign to step up minority outreach. Instead, they pulled out their maps. When the state Legislature convened the following January, as part of a “midcycle” redrawing of more than 15 House seats, lawmakers decided to swap out heavily black and Latino areas in Chandler and Strickland’s suburban districts with nearby precincts that leaned Republican. Two years later, Strickland again eked out a victory. The creative mapmaking appeared to be yet another political power play, one practiced just as deftly by Democrats during their more than 150 years of control over the General Assembly. But according to a federal lawsuit filed last October, the 2015 effort was an “assault on voting rights” that amounted to racial gerrymandering—an unconstitutional act.
Georgia: Norwood concedes defeat, won’t challenge Atlanta mayoral election results in court | Marietta Daily Journal
One day before the deadline to challenge in court the results of the Dec. 5 Atlanta mayoral nonpartisan general runoff election, Mary Norwood has conceded defeat against Keisha Lance Bottoms. In an email sent to her supporters and the media Dec. 20, Norwood said she decided not to challenge the results in Fulton County Superior Court Dec. 21. She had until that day to do so because the Dec. 16 certification of the recount in the election yielded a small change in the results, where Norwood lost by about 820 votes or 49.6 percent.
Georgia: Norwood may challenge Atlanta mayor’s race results in court after recount yields loss | Marietta Daily Journal
The Dec. 14 recount in the Dec. 5 nonpartisan Atlanta mayoral general runoff election produced the same result as the certified totals did, with Keisha Lance Bottoms nipping Mary Norwood by 832 votes. But Norwood is considering challenging the election results in court after the Dec. 14 recount conducted by DeKalb and Fulton counties did not include officials hand-counting the absentee and provisional ballots. The two counties certified the results Dec. 11, and with it, Bottoms’ margin of victory increased from 759 votes to 832. However, the percentages stayed the same, with Bottoms getting 50.4 percent and Norwood 49.6 percent, meaning Norwood was still within a percentage point and eligible for a recount, which she had already requested.