The Georgia Secretary of State’s office has unveiled a new education program to help voters acclimate to a new $104 million election system that prints out a paper record of your vote that is then scanned and stored for counting.
“Secure The Vote” is a website and awareness campaign that will show Georgians how the Dominion Voting Systems ballot-marking devices work, including a streamlined check-in process using iPads, the touchscreen machines where you make your selections and the printed ballot with a summary of your selections that is then inserted into a precinct scanner.
“We are fundamentally changing and improving how elections are conducted in Georgia,” Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a press release. “We look forward to educating voters on the advantages and accessibility of the new system.”
The education campaign stresses that voters need to verify their choices throughout the process – both on a summary page on the touchscreen and on the printed paper ballot.
The change to voting represents the largest deployment of new elections equipment in the country, and the rollout of the machines to Georgia’s 159 counties faces a tight timeline: officials hope the new system is in place for the March 24, 2020, presidential preference primary.
Raffensperger has said the implementation is running ahead of schedule.
Six counties piloted the BMD machines during November municipal elections, and the secretary of state’s office says reported problems and glitches should be addressed in time for the first statewide election on the machines.
Additionally, elections officials across the state have hosted demonstrations of the machines for interested voters, including a booth at the Georgia National Fair in Perry.
Counties are adding resources and expecting high turnout in next year’s presidential election, and the secretary of state’s office said it is working to make sure Georgia voters have trust in the new system as well.
Yesterday, Raffensperger’s office announced he was joining a bipartisan group of elections officials across the country to “develop effective methods for educating voters and combatting misinformation about the security of Georgia’s elections.”
The state’s decision to move to BMDs has not been without controversy, with election integrity groups and voting rights advocates challenging virtually every aspect of the system.
A new report released by coalition of groups argue that the new system will cost counties an additional $82 million over the next ten years, something the state denies.
Several vocal critics of BMDs are being investigated for alleged polling place violations after they sought to observe pilot elections of the machines.
And the new machines are in federal court as part of an ongoing lawsuit seeking to end the use of electronic voting machines in Georgia. A federal judge also ordered a pilot of hand-marked paper ballots in November, with the expectation that system would be used if the BMD system is not ready in time for the March elections.