Our democratic form of government may be messy sometimes, but it still rests in a bedrock of our full faith in the voting systems. We are currently allowing lobbyist and special interests to chip away at that bedrock.
Georgia cybersecurity experts agree the safest voting machines for our state are hand-marked paper ballots that are read by a machine with an optical scanner, according to Gov. Brian Kemp’s SAFE commission. Those machines would cost the state $50 million. These ballots are similar to the scantrons, or “bubble-in forms,” that we used to take standardized tests in school.
However, our governor is proposing the state instead invest $150 million in machines that are not as secure; voting machines that change your votes into a barcode that can only be read by other machines, and are therefore unable to be double checked by poll workers.
Experts also agree that these machines will not prevent hacking and malicious election mischief.
Why would our governor want to spend more money on less secure voting machines? One answer may be that the company that produces the expensive machines, Election Systems & Software, lobbied the governor for many years, to the point that their lobbyist, Mr. Charles Harper, is now Gov. Kemp’s deputy chief of staff.
This is disgusting. This is not fiscal conservatism, and this is not moral.
The hand-marked ballots that can be read by optical scanners don’t suffer many of the problems the barcode machines do: the hand-marked ballots can be filled out by voters even in the event of power outages, or lack of extension cords, as we saw happen in November over in Gwinnett County. The hand-marked ballots can be easily recounted, if that is necessary.
Also, in our own Hall County we saw a problem in one of our southern precincts in November. One machine eliminated 10 races from its ticker tape that it produced at the end of the voting day. While the county has guessed that the problem arose because someone unplugged the machine temporarily, there is actually no way to confirm that the votes from that machine were actually counted, or if they were recorded at all. This type of problem will be eradicated with the hand-marked paper ballots, which are similar to the type of ballots we used in Hall prior to 2002.
We as taxpayers need to demand that Sen. Butch Miller advocate and vote for the right choice: the more affordable and superior choice of hand-marked paper ballots and not the hackable, corrupt, and overly expensive choice of barcode machines. Let’s save $100 million from the state budget.