Paper Ballots

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.

Ezra Morris / GPB

It's a week before Crossover Day, the last day a bill can survive this session without passing either the House or the Senate.

That means it's crunch time for bills that have been filed, as well as a slew of bills that are both new and controversial.

Here's some highlights:

-The House passed the record $27.5 billion FY 2020 budget, which adds a $2,775 raise for teachers - and other school staff. Also included is $150 million for new voting machines, training for local poll workers and other maintenance costs.

Grant Blankenship/GPB

After three days and close to 10 hours of public testimony, a House committee passed a measure that would change Georgia's voting machines and modify state election laws. 


A federal appeals court says a lawsuit over the state's outdated election system can continue.

The 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a ruling Thursday that said that it did not have the jurisdiciton to hear the state's assertion the two groups of plaintiffs had standing to file suit, and that the state was not immune from being sued in this particular case.

Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Lawmakers and laymen alike huddled around stacks of paper and gleaming touchscreens to test potential replacements for Georgia’s aging touchscreen digital voting machines at the Georgia Freight Depot in downtown Atlanta on Thursday. 


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.

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, Brian Kemp declares it’s time to set aside politics and govern for the good of all Georgians. Are Democrats ready to bury the hatchet after a brutal campaign?


Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

On a recent sunny Monday, joggers on their morning stroll in Fayetteville's McCurry Park  might have been surprised to hear thumps, clicks and whirrs coming from the elections trailer next to the parking lot.

Over the course of several days, that trailer 20 miles south of Atlanta was where officials tested close to 300 voting machines to ensure they operated smoothly and accurately. Those machines would go out to 36 precincts across the county for the Nov. 6 midterm election.


Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Georgia’s most populous county is changing the way it uploads election results to the state’s server for the Nov. 6 midterm election.


A voter enters a polling site in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.
(AP PHOTO/DAVID GOLDMAN)

Monday night, a federal judge denied a request to move Georgia’s 159 counties to paper ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election.

But she also denied the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, writing that Georgia’s 16-year-old touchscreen voting system is at risk of cyberattack or other threats.

GPB's Stephen Fowler has been following the case. He spoke with GPB's Rickey Bevington about what comes next.


A new voting machine which prints a paper record sits on display at a polling site in Conyers, Ga.
David Goldman / AP Photo

On this edition of Political Rewind, Federal Judge Amy Totenberg denied a group’s request to require the state to switch to paper ballots. Georgia’s 27,000 electronic voting machines will remain in use for November’s election. But she said that Georgia's election officials have "buried their heads in the sand" on the issue of voting vulnerabilities.


WHENISCALENDARS.COM/GOOGLE IMAGES

Georgia will not have to move from its direct-recording electronic voting machines for this November’s elections.

In a Monday night ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg denied a preliminary injunction that would have required more than 2,600 voting precincts in 159 counties to switch to an optically-scanned paper ballot system for the Nov. 6 election.

Joel Mclendon / Flickr/CC

A federal judge could decide as soon as tomorrow whether Georgia must switch from digital touchscreen voting machines to a paper ballot system.

A group of election integrity advocates and concerned Georgia voters say the change needs to be made before November’s election.

GPB’s Stephen Fowler was in yesterday’s hearing. He spoke to GPB's Rickey Bevington about the case.


Grant Blankenship/GPB

A federal judge could decide this week if the state must switch to paper ballots for this November’s election.

Judge Amy Totenberg told a packed courtroom Wednesday the request to change the state’s election infrastructure was a “catch-22.” One the one hand, Totenberg said protecting voting rights from threats of cyberattack or hacking was important because it deals with the integrity and credibility of the voting system.

From left: incumbent U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, candidate for lieutenant governor, Sarah Riggs Amico, candidate for governor Stacey Abrams.
(AP Photo/John Bazemore, GPB News/Stephen Fowler)

On this edition of Political Rewind, there are an unprecedented number of women running for office this year, and a majority of Americans are happy to see the increase.


A voter enters a polling site in Atlanta, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.
(AP PHOTO/DAVID GOLDMAN)

On this edition of Political Rewind, the Secretary of State’s office claims there will be chaos at Georgia voting locations if a federal judge orders the state to switch to paper ballots. We look at the arguments from both sides of the aisle concerning the security of Georgia’s voting machines ahead of the November 6 election.


(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

On this edition of Political Rewind, the Supreme Court issues a landmark ruling, siding with a baker who refused to make a gay couple’s wedding cake. It’s a narrowly argued decision, but it will have an impact here in Georgia and across the country.  Then, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Casey Cagle have been polling voters to come up with strategies for how to win the governor’s mansion.  Meanwhile, Brian Kemp is promoting his own polls that show him neck-and-neck with Cagle for the GOP nomination.  Our panel looks at the latest news from the governor’s race.  Plus, could a federal court force Georgia election officials to scramble to provide paper ballots for the November elections?


(AP Photo/David Goldman)

On this edition of Political Rewind, Governor Deal says he’ll support the legislative push to buy voting machines that leave a paper trail, but critics say the proposed fix won’t assure Georgians that their votes have been tallied accurately.  Also, a federal court has blocked a measure just signed into law that would make Mississippi’s abortion restrictions the toughest in the nation, and now one candidate for Georgia governor says he wants to take those laws and make them even tougher here.  Plus, a number of Democrats running for Georgia GOP congressional seats are pledging to vote again

On this edition of Political Rewind, a surprise at the State Capitol: a hate-crimes bill is suddenly re-introduced.  Can it pass the legislature and become law?  Also, qualifying for the 2018 Georgia elections ends and candidates across the ballot are now in place.  Our panel weighs in on the surprise, the trends and the races likely to be in the spotlight.  In news from the state legislature, a measure to fund voting machines that leave a paper trail moves forward while progress to expand the legal rights of victims of childhood sexual abuse may not.  And, it’s been quite a news day involv