AUGUSTA, Ga. – “It made it difficult for recounts and audits. With this system, there are three ways. There’s the paper ballot itself which we’ll keep for 2-years, there’s the bar-code, and the image taken on the optical scanner when voters have their ballot cast,” says Sharyl Sutton, Voter Education Coordinator.
Georgia is replacing its first generation electronic voting machines that’s almost two decades old with a new and secure paper-ballot system.
Last year’s election cycle experienced record registration and turn out, which called for change.
“There was no way to prove it really, because the vote was stored electronically and so with this system we do have a piece of paper associated with it so voters can have the comfort of seeing their vote on a piece of paper. And it gives us a method to recount votes if we need to,” says Lynn Bailey, and Executive Director of the Richmond County Board of Elections.
Bailey partnered with Mt. Calvary Baptist Church to host a ‘Secure the Vote Georgia’ presentation.
This presentation gives officials an opportunity to show voters what they can expect at the polls during this election year.
“They will get a piece printed out that will have their selections on it, and the voter will have that piece of paper to review and to make sure that their selections were recorded properly and then ultimately deposited in the ballot box,” says Bailey.
Everything new comes with a learning curve. election officials tell us they understand that the biggest challenge will be emphasizing the importance of each person’s vote getting into the ballot box after they received their paper ballot.
“It’s not their proof that they voted, it’s not something they can stick in their purse or their pocket, it is their ballot. And so failure to get that vote into the ballot box means that while they’ve gone through the process of voting, they’ve not actually cast their ballot. That piece of paper has to go into the ballot box,” says Lynn.
All Georgia voters will cast paper ballots starting March 24th for presidential preference primary.