The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to “hybridize” the next national elections in May 2022. “We have no recommendations yet. It’s been talked about. Our focus really is a hybridization of the AES (Automated Election System),” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview Wednesday. A hybrid election system is a combination of both manual and electronic methods to be used either in voting, counting, transmission, and canvassing of results. However, the poll body official added that they have given Congress an estimated budget for their plan. “So far, we gave them our budget estimate, how much it would cost and well it looks like there is budget implication especially hybridization the way they are describing it now with projectors and everything at the canvassing level. So the costs have ballooned,” he said. While he doesn’t have the exact figures, Jimenez said the commission may have to pay twice or thrice the normal cost of an election.
Editorials: Good, bad and ambiguous in Georgia’s new voting system | Wenke Lee/Atlanta Journal Constitution
Although I’m pleased the Georgia General Assembly acted quickly this session to address flaws in our current voting equipment, I remain concerned that, overall, our state has chosen the less-secure, more-cumbersome, costly option and that too many details — essential for election security and voter confidence — are still undefined. First, let’s review what’s right about HB 316 and what Georgia gained. It requires: pre-certification election audits to validate initial outcomes; “voting in absolute secrecy;” that voting equipment produce a paper record in a format readable by humans, and that equipment will “mark correctly and accurately.” I’m also pleased that voter education is part of this bill, in the albeit very modest stipulation that poll workers post signs reminding voters to read, review, and verify paper printouts before casting their final votes. What’s bad about HB 316 is what it could have accomplished but did not: human-readable, hand-marked paper ballots — by far the most cost-effective and cybersecure method of voting. Instead, it establishes a system where electronic ballot markers (EBMs) are used to generate a paper receipt of voter selections — rather than a hand, holding a pen to paper. Overwhelmingly, citizens, computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and nonpartisan groups recommended and requested hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia over any other method. I am baffled as to why state lawmakers repeatedly ignored such an overwhelming cry.