New voting machines to help with voter security

New voting machines to help with voter security

Lee County, Ga. (WALB) - If you voted in the Georgia Senate District 13 special election Tuesday, you used the brand new voting machines.

A federal judge ruled every precinct in all 159 counties in the state must use the new machines in every election this year.

The entire state of Georgia will be using new voting machines on March 24 for the presidential primary election. And if you voted in the House District 171 special election last week, or the Senate District 13 special election, you already used them.

"You get the electronic tabulation, you get a digital image of every ballot and the elections office keeps the ballot so they can do post-election audits,” said Chris Harvey, the elections director with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

Chris Harvey, the elections director with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
Chris Harvey, the elections director with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. (Source: WALB)

In 2019, a group of concerned Georgia voters started a lawsuit, saying voting machines were vulnerable to hacking and tampering.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg barred the state from using the current electronic machines.

Now, the machines are a combination of touch screens and printed out paper ballots.

“If there’s ever a question after the election, ‘Hey, this doesn’t seem quite right,’ we can pull out every single piece of paper, count them out by hand and make sure the right person won,” said Harvey.

The new machines are supposed to improve cybersecurity practices.

“This will be the first time a state of this size with this many counties has rolled out a uniformed voting system like this,” said Harvey.

Harvey said the challenge will be getting the old equipment out and the new equipment in every precinct in every county in the state. Which makes the practice with the past two special elections even more important.

“What I’ve heard in talking to county elections directors, is while they weren’t too thrilled about having to do it this early, they’re now relieved they’ve gotten it past them, they’ve gotten the experience,” Harvey explained.

A precinct volunteer, Kelly Moore, said they haven’t had any trouble with the new machines.

Voting precinct volunteer Kelly Moore.
Voting precinct volunteer Kelly Moore. (Source: WALB)

“Actually, everybody has done extremely well,” said Moore.

And she encourages everyone take part in voting.

“Just get out and vote. It matters,” Moore said.

If you didn’t vote in either special election, you will see the new voting machines on March 24 for the primaries.

A quick how-to before you hit the polls:

The new voting machines use, touch screens, paper ballots and ballot scanners.

First, you’ll sign in at your precinct where an iPad will be used to scan your driver’s license or another form of photo ID.

Then you sign the screen using your fingers.

You’ll then head to vote at a large touchscreen, inserting the voter card they give you when you sign in.

You’ll vote and it will give you options to review and then you print out your ballot at the machine.

Finally, you will take the ballot to the scanner.

“You actually feed it in. It takes it in. The ballot itself is deposited in the bottom and this is where your vote is cast. And it shows you, you have cast your vote successfully,” Moore explained.

Moore said once they explained it to people voting in the special election Tuesday, they really didn’t have a problem figuring the new system out.

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