New Georgia voting machines win final vote in state House

by Mark Niesse, AJC

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March 13, 2019 – Atlanta – Senator William Ligon, Jr. (right) is congratulated by Rep. Barry Fleming, R – Harlem, after the passage of HB 316. Flemming sponsored the bill in the House and Ligon carried it in the Senate. The Georgia Senate voted in favor Wednesday on a new voting system with a paper trail to verify the accuracy of election results. Bob Andres / [email protected]

The Georgia House gave final legislative approval Thursday to buying a new $150 million touchscreen-and-paper ballot statewide voting system, sending the bill to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

The House voted 101-69 on the proposal for Georgia voters to use a combination of voting machines and computer-printed paper ballots starting with the presidential primary election next year. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The new voting system would replace the state’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines, which lack a paper ballot.

Georgia would become the first state in the country to rely entirely on these kinds of voting machines, called ballot-marking devices, for every voter on Election Day. Some jurisdictions in 24 states use similar voting systems, often to assist voters with disabilities.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with the House’s Republican majority supporting the new voting machines, saying they’re easy to use and provide a paper record that could be used to check the accuracy of election results.

Majority Leader Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington, said the voting system will provide “the best platform for every Georgian’s vote to be counted and respected.” He said audits will ensure election results are accurate.

Minority Democrats fought the legislation, House Bill 316, saying it would leave Georgia’s elections vulnerable to hacking and tampering.

Democrats wanted Georgia to switch to paper ballots bubbled in by pen, saying those ballots would have better reflected voters’ intentions.

It’s not immediately clear when Kemp will sign the bill. He has previously said he supports this type of voting system. His office didn’t immediately comment.

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