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Group asks state for new voter rules in 2020

It fears new voting machines won't be ready; state says rollout is on track for March primary

ATLANTA — Some Georgia voters are asking the state to change its voting rules for the 2020 election. The voters contend that the state may not be ready to roll out its new election system statewide by the presidential primary in March.

The group wants the state election board to make paper ballots an option in counties that aren't comfortable with the new machines.

There were a few glitches when a handful of cities used the new Dominion voting machines last month. The state says the glitches were minor – and plans to deliver 33,000 new voting machines for use statewide.  

That delivery also includes ballot printers, electronic poll books to identify voters and additional hardware. Poll workers will also have to be trained.  Early voting for the March primary starts in early March. 

"In 2020, with the expected turnout for both the primaries and the actual presidential election - to take on that massive effort at that time period is very concerning," said Rhonda Martin, an elections activist.

RELATED: Georgia secretary of state investigating critics of new machines for 'interfering with voters' on election day

She is among  those petitioning the state to adjust the rules for next year’s elections, which are run by each of the state’s 159 counties. They want the state to:

  • Allow voters to be able to walk in to precincts with mail-in absentee ballots and submit them to pollworkers.
  • Require counties to print on paper the new pollbook that identifies voters – in case the computerized pollbooks malfunction, as some of them did last month.
  • Allow individual counties to decide how much of the new voting system they want to use next year – giving counties the option of using hand-marked paper ballots, instead of the touch-pad voting machines to create the paper ballots on the new system.

RELATED: State probe targets election activists critical of new voting system

"If they can do a slower more incremental adoption of the new systems, that might make next year go a little easier," Martin said.

The decision will be up to the state election board. The secretary of state’s office says it is on track to troubleshoot machines and train people across the state in time for the March primary.  It would not comment on the specific proposals in the petition. 

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