As Cost Questions Loom, Senate Passes Voting Machine Bill

Mar 13, 2019

The state Senate has approved HB 316, an omnibus voting bill that would tweak state election code and would make Georgia the only state in the country to solely use ballot-marking devices to conduct elections.

Lawmakers debated for about three hours on the measure, which was passed 35-21 along party lines.

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) carried the bill in the Senate. He said the $150 million price tag in the budget has been thoroughly vetted by lawmakers and the state.

“This legislation is the product of multiple hearings in the House of Representatives and three in the Senate," he said, "as well as months of work by a special commission formed last year to review this whole process of a new voting system for our state."

But Democrats say there are hidden costs with the touchscreen ballot-marking devices proposed, and they wanted more time to examine the numbers before passing the bill.

Wednesday morning, GPB News published documents from the Secretary of State's Office detailing the different costs of proposals from six vendors, plus an internal state estimate and a calculation from a non-profit elections group that show a wide range of costs and specificity.

Because the Senate ethics committee made amendments, the House now has to vote on the bill again before sending it to the Governor.