Georgia has awarded a massive contract to replace its outdated touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines to a new company offering ballot-marking devices with a paper component.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that Dominion Voting Systems will be the state's new vendor for elections, ditching current vendor Elections Systems & Software.
The new $90 million system will include an electronic poll book where voters check in, an ImageCast X Ballot-Marking Device, where voters will touch their selections which are then printed on a paper ballot and an ImageCast Precinct Polling Place Scanner which will scan and store the voter's paper ballot for counting.
Dominion says its BMD paper ballots include a barcode that is scanned as well as an image of the complete ballot, but it also produces a human-readable summary of contests and your choices that voters can verify.
"For example, the state can make scanned images of all ballots cast in statewide elections available, allowing anyone to do a ballot count to check the accuracy of results," a "frequently asked questions" document reads.
Any recounts or audits that are done would be conducted with the actual text of a voter's selection, not the barcode.
“Elections security is my top priority,” Raffensperger said in the press release. “We look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”
The selection of Dominion comes at the end of a months-long state procurement process, which included hundreds of pages of submissions about technical and financial aspects of proposed systems and a scoring rubric. Dominion scored the highest in the cost evaluation measure, which helped it edge out ES&S and Smartmatic.
A federal judge is currently weighing a motion to block the state from using the outdated DRE system and switch to hand-marked paper ballots for hundred municipal elections happening across the state this fall.
In a two-day hearing last week, Judge Amy Totenberg heard concerns from Georgia voters, elections officials and cybersecurity experts about the state's current system and the feasability of switching to an interim system. It is unclear whether the state's decision today will have an impact on her ruling.
During testimony last week, chief information officer for the secretary of state's office Merritt Beaver said that implementing the new system in time would be "tight," but doable.
“We are honored to partner with the State of Georgia to deliver a best-in-class system that is fully adaptable to state needs,” Dominion CEO John Poulous said in a press release. “Election officials and voters alike can be assured they are using the most modern, accessible and security-focused system on the market today, with paper ballots for every vote cast to ease auditing and ensure confidence in results.”
Up to six Georgia counties will pilot the new Dominion system in this November's local elections before being rolled out in time for the Presidential primary March 24, 2020.
In the coming weeks, the secretary of state's office will do voter outreach, inviting Georgians to interact with the new machines and ask questions.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.