Brad Raffensperger

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is continuing to urge Georgians to vote by mail in the June 9 primary, especially after reports of long lines and some election offices shut down by the virus.

As of Saturday, at least 1.5 million registered voters have requested an absentee ballot, more than 551,000 Georgians returned those ballots and another 77,000 voted in person.

For those million or so voters that have received a ballot but not yet filled it out, the secretary of state implored them to return their ballots sooner rather than later.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

Monday on Political Rewind, the challenges of holding elections amidst a public health crisis. We spoke to the current and former secretaries of state who joined us to talk about managing this year's elections amid the dangers of coronavirus.

Panelists:

Brad Raffensperger - Georgia Secretary of State

Cathy Cox - Former Georgia Secretary of State, former candidate for governor, current Dean of the Walter F. Georgia School of Law at Mercer University

GPB

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday a new task force that will investigate allegations of fraud within the absentee voting process as more Georgians are also encouraged to vote by mail in the upcoming May 19 primary election. 

At a press conference outside of the Capitol, Raffensperger said the group would be "responsible for upholding the integrity of the vote in Georgia, whether at the ballot box or the mailbox."

Sam Bermas-Dawes / GPB News

Elected officials at the county and municipal levels are struggling to find ways to respond to an unfolding public health crisis. Where many other states have issued statewide lockdowns, Gov. Brian Kemp has made it clear he wants to allow local leaders to make decisions on this kind of policy for themselves.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia’s presidential primary will be postponed until May 19, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Saturday, in an effort to protect poll workers and voters traveling to the polls.

In a statement, the top election official said it was a decision to mitigate higher risk, especially since Georgia’s poll workers average 70-years-old.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

After a marathon hearing in Athens Wednesday, the Georgia State Election Board has ordered Athens-Clarke County to cease using hand-marked paper ballots and return to using the ballot-marking devices or face further sanctions.

The five-member board, chaired by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also voted to impose a $2,500 fine to cover part of the costs of investigating the violations, plus a $5,000 a day fine if the switch is not made. Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said her staff would make the change Thursday morning.

Paul Sancya / AP

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is joining a national coalition of media companies, nonprofits, governments and other groups to encourage people to participate in early voting before the Nov. 3, 2020, election.

The “Vote Early Day” is set for Saturday, Oct. 24, a time when most voters will still be able to request an absentee ballot or use in-person early voting options.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

This week’s early voting for the presidential preference primary is the first statewide implementation of the new $104 million touchscreen voting system with a paper ballot component.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said more than 17,000 voters across Georgia used them on Monday, and called the “Herculean task” of preparing them for early voting a success.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

More than 7.2 million Georgians are eligible to cast their ballot in the state’s presidential preference primary next month, as state officials prepare for both a record turnout and the rollout of a new statewide voting system.

According to data from the secretary of state’s office, there are more than 6.9 million active voters in Georgia and about 369,000 inactive voters, with even more registrations filed by the Feb. 24 deadline being processed in the coming days.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Georgia secretary of state’s office is launching an expanded partnership with The King Center to bring demonstrations of the state’s new $104 million voting system to more than 100 congregations across the state this year.

Rama / Wikimedia

On Friday's Political Rewind, House Speaker David Ralston has ended speculation that the legislature could pass a bill forcing primary elections for both Georgia U.S. Senate seats this year. The proposed measure appeared to be designed to offer GOP Senate candidate Doug Collins a leg up in his battle with Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

It could have put legislators on a collision course with Gov. Brian Kemp, who favors an election that puts candidates of both parties on a special election ballot in November.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A new rule passed Wednesday by the State Election Board will require poll workers to remind voters to review their paper ballots before casting them. The directive is one of many proposed rules that will govern the new ballot-marking device voting system being rolled out statewide.

The changes address issues ranging from early voting to absentee ballots, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, adding that many of them would be amended to incorporate feedback given by public commenters and other voting rights groups.
 

“This will be a process; we'll take a few iterations," he said. “We want to continue to improve elections in Georgia and we want to continue to take input from all the key voters and stakeholders in the election process in Georgia.”

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Nearly half of Georgia’s 159 counties are getting more voting machines than allotted in the original request for proposals, according to the latest numbers from the secretary of state’s office.

Georgia has purchased 33,100 Dominion ballot-marking devices as part of the largest single implementation of a new voting system in U.S. history, with 31,826 of them slated to be delivered to counties ahead of the March 24 presidential preference primary.

Georgia Secretary of State's Office

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.

Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Elections officials say there were few hiccups in the pilot of the new $107 million touchscreen voting system that will be implemented statewide in the coming months.

Six counties piloted the Dominion ballot-marking devices that print out a paper record of your vote that is then inserted into a scanner for tabulation, and a seventh county tested hand-marked paper ballots as a backup system in case the BMDs are not ready in time.

Georgia Secretary of State's OFfice

The secretary of state's office is reviewing a petition signed by more than 1,400 people asking for another, deeper look at the state's new voting system. 

The petition, delivered Monday morning, alleges several issues with the state's certification process of the Dominion Voting System, which includes ballot-marking devices, precinct-level scanners, electronic poll books and the election management system.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the machines Aug. 9 after a third-party company tested the equipment "against the requirements set forth for voting systems by the Election Assistance Commission 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and the State of Georgia."

Andrew Harnik / AP

One day after a ruling was issued that requires Georgia to ditch its outdated touchscreen voting machines in 2020, a group of voters asked a federal judge to block the state from replacing it with a new $107 million ballot-marking device system.

Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to move to a paper ballot-based voting system after this fall’s municipal elections and to pilot hand-marked paper ballot voting in some elections this fall.

The new system selected by the secretary of state’s office satisfies that first order, as Dominion Voting Systems’ Image Cast X BMD combines a touchscreen tablet with a printer to produce a paper-based summary of a voter’s selection with a QR code that is then scanned and stored.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Georgians should have faith in the newly-announced voting machines coming for next year’s elections.

On Monday, Raffensperger announced the selection of Dominion Voting Systems as the state’s next voting machine vendor, with a $106 million price tag.

Georgia’s outdated touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines will be replaced by ballot-marking devices. Direct-recording electronic machines cast each vote on a memory card. But the BMDs print out a paper ballot with a summary of the voter’s selection plus a QR code that is then scanned and stored.

Andrew Harnik / AP

Today on Political Rewind, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has annonced new voting machines will be put in place ahead of the 2020 Presidential Primary. Where will the machines come from and how long will it take to get poll workers trained? Is it enough time for the primary election in March?


Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge who said Georgia officials allowed its election system to “grow way too old and archaic” will soon decide if hundreds of county and municipal elections in 2019 must be conducted on hand-marked paper ballots.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during an election commisison meeting in Macon. On Wednesday, Raffensperger annonuced Georgia will hold its presidential primary on March 24, 2020.
Stephen Fowler / GPB News

On this edition of Political Rewind, President Donald Trump's internal polls show him behind in Georgia, Florida and other key states. His campaign rally in Orlando gave the audience a glimpse of the themes on which he will run.


Andrew Harnik / AP

We have an election date: Two days after county elections officials expressed concerns about the still-to-be-decided presidential preference primary date, the secretary of state's office announced that voters will head to the polls March 24, 2020. 

That date is just before the deadline for a new voting machine vendor to fully implement a new system across the state's 159 counties.


President Donald Trump gives his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on. In Trump's estimation, the good times began to roll for t
Doug Mills / The New York Times via AP

On this edition of Political Rewind, Democratic incumbents in Georgia's congressional delegation who are also running for seats in 2020 show no unanimity on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.


Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Georgia could be one of the last states to set its date for the 2020 presidential preference primary, which is one of the first elections to be held on a soon-to-be-selected new voting system. 

In years past, Georgia has joined a number of states in holding the presidential primary on the first Tuesday in March known as "Super Tuesday," or what then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp dubbed the "SEC primary" in 2016.

But this year elections officials are holding off on a date until the dust has settled on the procurement process to replace Georgia's 27,000 outdated direct-recording electronic voting machines. 


Another federal judge is allowing a second lawsuit alleging problems with Georgia's current voting system to continue.

Judge Steve Jones Thursday denied the state's request to dismiss the case, filed by Stacey Abrams-affiliated Fair Fight Action, Care in Action and a slew of local churches. 

Grant Blankenship/GPB

As the state Senate is set to vote on a sweeping elections bill that would authorize $150 million in spending to modernize Georgia’s touchscreen direct-recording electronic voting machines, the long-term cost of the proposed solution remains a point of contention.  

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

A bill that would upgrade Georgia’s voting machines is winding its way through the Georgia Senate after clearing the House earlier this week.

HB 316 calls for Georgia to purchase touchscreen ballot-marking devices with a paper component, and makes numerous changes to how election law deals with absentee voting, voter registration and how votes are tallied.

New Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been following the bill’s progress closely, testifying at many of the subcommittee and committee hearings. He says that county elections officials overwhelmingly support ballot-marking devices as the best option for voters, and he thinks so, too.

While the bill was being heard for the first time in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday, I sat down with Raffensperger to talk about the bill and the future of Georgia’s elections.

Read the transcript of our conversation below.

Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp gives a thumbs-up to supporters, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Athens, Ga.
John Bazemore / AP Photo

Monday is a pivotal day in Georgia politics. Brian Kemp is being sworn in as the state’s 83rd governor while Geoff Duncan becomes lieutenant governor and Brad Raffensperger takes on the role of secretary of state.  It’s also the first day of the legislative session. The Georgia General Assembly now has 40 days to pass new legislation and shape the future of the state.

GPB Politics Reporter Stephen Fowler and “Political Rewind” host Bill Nigut stopped by “On Second Thought” to explore both of these topics.


Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during an election commisison meeting in Macon. On Wednesday, Raffensperger annonuced Georgia will hold its presidential primary on March 24, 2020.
Stephen Fowler / GPB News

When Brad Raffensperger is sworn in as secretary of state Jan. 14, he will assume control of an office that’s been accused of suppressing minority votes in the past, he'll be a party to several lawsuits in the present and he will oversee changing Georgia’s voting system in the future.

The Johns Creek Republican has been working to transition into the role since his Dec. 4 runoff victory against Democrat John Barrow, and says he has been working with many different people to make sure he is prepared for the job.

The Atlanta Press Club Runoff Debates were held Nov. 2 for Public Service Commission District 3 and Secretary of State.
Stephen Fowler / GPB News

On this edition of Political Rewind, early voting has begun in two key runoff races. Voters will pick a new Secretary of State, who will take charge of election machinery and processes that are the subject of raging controversy. They’ll also vote in a race that will help determine Georgia’s energy future. Our panel looks at the contests.


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