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New voting to be tested

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December 05, 2005

Bainbridge, Georgia-- Georgia's new electronic voting system was supposed to solve and prevent voting problems, but some state lawmakers don't fully trust it. Senator Bill Stephens has pre-filed legislation to revamp Georgia's touch-screen voting machines so a paper trail goes along with the computer records. One south Georgia county will test that paper system.

Decatur County elections supervisor, Doris White, has a busy July ahead. "It will be the Governor's election. We will have three county commissioner's seats that will be open at that time," says White.

White's also busy working with a new voting system using a paper trail to document every ballot cast. Decatur is one of three counties that will use it in the primaries. "We don't know a whole lot about it yet. We're just waiting to go to school to learn," says White.

That'll happen after the first of the year. Meantime, elections officials are left wondering why a new system of checks and balances is needed, in line for use in the 2008 presidential election. "I don't see where the touch screen machines could go wrong. This is a seal that's placed on a machine once the ballot is loaded. If it's not this seal number with that serial number on the machine, they know there's a problem," says White.

"The change comes in with the paper receipt, where something is going to run under the a screen to show you your choices before you press cast ballot," says elections clerk, Erica Hamilton.

Voters won't get that receipt. It'll feed back into the machine, similar to the computer's existing receipt, which already safeguards against electronic errors. "I have complete confidence in our voting system," says White. But now, visual reinforcement will provide that at the polls, an initiative the state will pay for at more than $3,000 a pop.

Cobb and Columbia are the other two counties participating in the pilot program.

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