There was mostly cordial agreement Wednesday in the Macon office of Georgia’s Secretary of State about how the state’s elections should change. Democrats, Republicans, local election officials and one cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with reviewing Georgia’s options for new voting machines were united. The state’s system should include a paper trail voters can check for themselves, it should be auditable, voter education should be a focus as the new machines are rolled out, and the new system should be in place before the 2020 presidential elections. “In the middle of a very contentious election year,” Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland said, “I love that we are a nonpartisan group that all have the exact same goal in mind, and that’s to make sure that we have a safe, secure and trustworthy election process where every person’s vote is counted.”
Democratic state Sen. Lester Jackson appeared to agree. “This process has been helpful,” Jackson, of Savannah, said. “I think the commission has been fair.”
Georgia rolled out its current voting machines in 2002 and is now one of 14 states using electronic voting machines that do not leave a paper trail that can be audited after an election.
Cybersecurity experts warn the machines can leave elections vulnerable to hacking. In a worst-case scenario, hackers could manipulate vote totals without detection.
A lawyer with the Secretary of State’s office warned the commission that if Georgia doesn’t switch to a paper-based system by 2020, federal courts will likely order it to do so.