The spirited debate over which version of new voting equipment to purchase in Georgia (ballot marking devices or hand-marked paper ballots) continues at the General Assembly. Ballot marking devices are similar to the voters’ current experience whereby one marks their votes on a tablet screen; however, it produces a paper receipt, which the voter checks for accuracy and then runs through a scanning machine to cast their vote. Hand marked paper ballots are just that - the voter marks the ballot by hand, checks it, and then runs it through the scanner. Both produce a paper trail for auditing and verification.
Georgia SAFE Commission
, ACCG’s Policy Council and the majority of Georgia’s election officials favor ballot marking devices. ACCG’s position is based on the anticipated costs to counties of hand-marked ballots, administrative feasibility, and the recommendations of county election officials – all of which are well summarized by Augusta-Richmond County Elections Director Lynn Bailey in her
to the Georgia SAFE Commission.
The General Assembly is split and, in order to please advocates on both sides, some legislators are considering authorizing the state purchase of ballot marking devices for counties in which their legislative delegation is in favor of ballot marking devices. Those counties where the legislative delegation supports hand-marked paper ballots would not get ballot marking devices; rather, some machinery would be provided for the local production and scanning of hand marked paper ballots.
Please contact your election officials, gauge their preference, and express your county’s preference to your local legislative delegation as soon as possible.