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Candidates call for switch to hand-marked paper ballots

Hacking concerns drive Democrat, Libertarian and GOP candidates to petition the state board.

ATLANTA — Some candidates on the ballot in the May primary want the state election board to stop using voting machines because they said they aren’t reliable. 

The call to shut down the state’s voting machines and switch to hand-marked paper ballots is coming from Republicans, Democrats and Libertarian candidates who are on the ballot right now.

Critics said the Dominion voting system that Georgia used for the first time in 2020 isn’t reliable.  And those critics aren’t just conspiracy theorists from former President Donald Trump's camp. 

"I don’t think what we have in place is enough given all the concern that’s out there in the public," John Eaves said, who is a former Fulton County Board of Commissioners chairman and a Democrat running for Secretary of State in this month’s primary election.  

He is among the candidates urging the state election board to use its emergency authority to switch from the state’s voting machines to hand-marked paper ballots, which, Eaves said. "can’t be hacked."

Tech experts have been among those raising concerns about the potential for hacking computer systems in elections.

Ten years ago, only 37% of voters in America were using hand-marked paper ballots.  Now it’s 67%, according to verifiedvoting.org. 

Georgia is still among a dozen states that primarily rely on computer software to handle elections.

"There’s going to be massive voter turnout this year. And we need to get it right. We need to make sure people are confident in their election systems," Ryan Graham, the Libertarian Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor, said.

Some 50 candidates on the ballot now are among those asking the state election board to switch to paper ballots, according to the election watchdog group the Coalition for Good Governance.

But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger insists that the Dominion voting system that produced 2020’s credible election results can steer clear of hackers again this year.  

"The machines have been secured," Raffensperger said Wednesday.  "And then we can audit any election like we did in 2020."

Supporters said a switch, even as early voting is underway, would be as easy as pulling the plug on voting machines and using printers already in use in Georgia’s 159 counties to print the ballots and hand them to voters.

Matt Mashburn, an election board member, told us he has no interest in pursuing this.

"I am confident that votes are and will continue to be accurately recorded and reported using the (ballot marking devices) with voter-verified paper receipts," he wrote in a text message.

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