James Magazine Mar Apr 2020 - Page 47



Lowndes was a pilot county
for two elections in 2019. Cox
said the equipment received
high praise from voters.
“We surveyed every
voter about their experience
with the new equipment,
and we found a 97 percent
approval rating. Voters like
having a paper ballot that
they can review before actually casting their ballot,” said
Cox. “We made the transition as easy as possible for
voters, with people giving instructions at every step in
the polling places.”
She notes that for voters, they may not notice much
of a difference.
Voters will still show ID and check in on a tablet,
receive a voter access card, then proceed to a touchscreen and vote by using the touch screen to select their
preferred candidates— all the same as before.
The main difference in the voter experience is the
“print” button instead of “cast ballot.” Voters receive
the printed receipt with a computer code attached,
which they can review and is then fed into a scanner to
record the vote.
“If the voter wants to
change a vote, or finds that
they have skipped something, they have the option
to “spoil” the ballot and
start over— as many times
as they like,” said Cox.
“When the voter is happy
with their choices, they
insert the ballot into the
scanner to be counted.”
“The voting equipment
is not connected to any
internet, Bluetooth or wifi,
so it’s secure,” added Cox.
Cox also said she had been pleased with the training from both the Secretary of State and Dominion
Voting Systems, which makes the machines. “We have
had multiple classroom trainings, webinars, training
materials, checklists and instruction books, but the
absolute best training is having a Dominion Tech in the
office for every step, allowing the elections officials to
learn at their own pace, and they will be here all year for
all elections in 2020.”
Joseph Kirk is the Bartow County elections supervisor and has also had experience with the new machines.
“So far, my experience has been very positive. Everyone
that I’ve spoken with has really seemed to like it— both
the poll workers as well as the voters,” said Kirk. “I’m
looking forward to the system for years to come.”
NOT EVERYONE IS AS OPTIMISTIC
Sara Tindall Ghazal became the Democratic Party of
Georgia’s, and the country’s, first full-time Voter
Protection Director in 2018. She resigned from her role to
run for State House District 45 in Cobb County and now
gets to see the voter protection process from a little different angle as a candidate.
“I am deeply concerned that the new voting system
will lead to voter confusion and problems on election
day. From the incredibly compressed timeline for the
rollout to the last-minute training that poll workers have
received, there is scarce opportunity for election day
poll workers to become familiar enough with the new
voting machines to be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise on election day,” said Ghazal. “On
top of this, the Secretary of State has not finalized the
regulations that are supposed to guide the counties in
how to conduct these elections.”
“This lack of clarity is unfair to both counties and
voters alike. Our November elections may well have
record-breaking turnout, and Georgians deserve a system where every voter can easily access their ballot and
have confidence that their vote will be fairly and accurately counted.”
MORE TRIAL RUNS BEFORE NOVEMBER
Besides being important for picking candidates, this
year’s May primaries will be an important trial run for
elections officials ahead of what may indeed be a recordbreaking November.
The Secure the Vote initiative from the Secretary of
State’s office will continue its work throughout the year.
There was a booth at the Georgia National Fair in Perry
and the office has partnered with the King Center in
Atlanta to make sure as many as possible are exposed to
the new machines.
“With the roll-out of these new machines in such a
crucial election year, we want to use our resources to
ensure all the citizens of Georgia are confident and ready
to vote on election day,” says King Center CEO Dr.
Bernice King. “We connected faith leaders to the Secure
the Vote initiative so that members of their congregations
and communities can practice casting the ballot to use
their voting power on March 24.”
“Our No. 1 priority is elections security,” said
Raffensperger. “We are thankful to the King Center, and
100 Congregations for helping Secure the Vote educate
all voters, from all walks of life and belief, of the new
upgraded security.”
46
JAMES
MARCH/APRIL 2020
Baker Owens is a staff writer for James and InsiderAdvantage Georgia.
MARCH/APRIL 2020
47

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