hand-marked paper ballots

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.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

The Georgia State Election Board is holding an emergency hearing in Athens next week to determine whether Athens-Clarke County is violating several state laws by not conducting elections on the state’s new $104 million voting system.

According to a notice sent to the county board of elections, Athens-Clarke officials should be prepared to present evidence explaining why it voted 3-2 to determine that it would be “impossible and impracticable” to use the ballot-marking devices. Athens-Clarke officials have moved to paper ballots instead.

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.