FIRST ON 3: Ga. Secretary of State visits Columbus to speak on new state voting machines

Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger visits WRBL News 3 to speak on rolling out a test of the state’s new combination touchscreen-printout ballot voting machines. (Mikhaela Singleton)

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Georgia is ready to start rolling out the first test of its new voting machines. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made a stop in Columbus to tell WRBL News 3 all about it.

Raffensperger says Georgia’s already received about 2,000 of the new combination touchscreen and paper ballot voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems. They’ll be shipped out this week to six counties — Paulding, Carrol, Bartow, Lowndes, Decatur, and Catoosa Counties — where the systems will be used in local Fall municipal elections.

Raffensperger says the state will be able to look out for any kinks in the system and prepare before the March 24th Georgia Presidential Primary.

“As you’re working through that process, there may be some things that, oh we weren’t anticipating, and so it’s much better to do that with the six counties and the municipal elections where the turnouts aren’t as high as the presidential primary or the Fall 2020 race,” Raffensperger explains to News 3’s Mikhaela Singleton. “We assume the Fall 2020 race will be hotly contested and we’ll have a lot of voters engaged in that process.”

The new machines will allow voters to make their digital selections and receive a printout of their choices. Each person will verify their votes before scanning them into the system through an optical scanner.

“What that also allows us to do now is to have physical recounts, something we haven’t had the opportunity to do since 2002, and also be able to do risk limiting audits. So, whenever we have that race that’s 51-49 or 60-40, we’ll be able to verify those results,” Raffensperger says.

The Secretary of State adds state officials looked for input from local election supervisors when choosing whether to support the combination touchscreen-printout system. He says around 80% of county officials, including Muscogee County Director of Elections & Registration Nancy Boren, supported the change.

“When the folks that are doing the hard work, and they understand all the intricacies — all those minute details — that go into an election, when they say, this is what we really want, you have to listen to that.”

Raffensperger also responded to hacking concerns. Georgia opponents of digital voting systems argued for paper ballots bubbled in with pen. Raffensperger says the state chose Dominion Voting Systems for its security track record.

“There’s an extensive system verification as part of the process, and people should feel confident about that,” he says. “We understand that hackers never sleep, neither can we. Those bad actors, they’re not going away, and so we really have to be vigilant. That’s very important and what we’re trying to do.”

“We are going to make sure your vote is secure, and I think that’s what people need to understand. Your vote is secure and it will be accurately counted,” he concludes.

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