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Voters to GA panel: Switch to paper ballots

Board studies replacing 2002 vintage voting machines
Credit: wxia

MACON, Ga. — The state commission tasked to recommend a new voting system heard a drumbeat of opinion Wednesday demanding the use of paper ballots by 2020.

While it’s a pretty sure bet the state will change its voting system next year. The question is, to what?

“Hand marked paper ballots,” was the adamant suggestion of Marilyn Marks, an election system activist from North Carolina, speaking to the board in Macon Wednesday.

She was part of a drumbeat of opinion that asked commission members to eliminate computer voting and revert to old-school voting. 

The move to replace Georgia’s 2002-era voting machines has been in the works for months and predates the contentious 2018 election for governor.  During that race, Democrats claimed that the voting system botched votes in some instances, contributing to mistrust.

Georgia’s 2002 technology experts say is vulnerable to hacking, according to tech experts -- as would be, they say, any computer-based replacement.   “Only hand marked paper ballots will solve that problem” Marks told the board.

But computers still have strong political backing. Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006, is still sold on them.

“We shouldn’t try to solve one problem – namely, voting security, and go back to a lot of problems we used to have in the past” with paper ballots, Cox said in an interview.

Board members said they will make recommendations to the legislature during a meeting in January.

The board was urged to act quickly so that so that the legislature can have a recommendation and a new law in place in time for 2019’s municipal elections, as a test run for the 2020 presidential election