Monday afternoon, the State of Georgia awarded a $107 million contract to Dominion Voting, a Toronto-based firm to install a new voting system that combines electronic touchscreens and paper ballots. This announcement signifies the first time Georgia has updated their voting systems since the state switched to electronic ballots in 2002.
“Elections security is my top priority,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a statement. “We look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”
Dominion will install more than 30,000 voting machines and 3,500 ballot scanners that Georgia’s 7 million registered voters can use on Election Day.
“Election officials and voters alike can be assured they are using the most modern, accessible and security-focused system on the market today, with paper ballots for every vote cast to ease auditing and ensure confidence in results,” said Dominion CEO John Poulous.
Georgia would be the first state in America to rely entirely on these voting machines that mark ballots.
Dominion says its BMD paper ballots include a barcode that is scanned as well as an image of the complete ballot, but it also produces a human-readable summary of contests and your choices that voters can verify.
“For example, the state can make scanned images of all ballots cast in statewide elections available, allowing anyone to do a ballot count to check the accuracy of results,” a “frequently asked questions” document reads.
Any recounts or audits that are done would be conducted with the actual text of a voter’s selection, not the barcode.
“The ballot-marking device adds an extra layer between voter intent and vote tabulation,” State Rep. Jasmine Clark said March 14th. “There’s no reliable source document to show if the machine is wrong. If there’s an issue, it’s going to affect the whole state.”
Moreover, Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action said Georgia’s decision to utilize Dominion’s services is not the best route to affect change and ensure security in future elections.
“Make no mistake that it was a result of the hard work of litigation, activism, and advocacy that the state has chosen Dominion over ES&S for the largest purchase of voting machines in American history,” Groh-Wargo said in a statement. “ES&S has infiltrated GA government, bribed politicians, shielded itself from public records requests, and failed in state after state, and, because of our and our allies’ months-long efforts to expose this corruption, the choice by the state is not as bad as it could have been.”
Today’s announcement, however, does nothing to change the fact that hand-marked paper ballots are more secure than elections by machines. Team Kemp cannot be trusted to protect the integrity of Georgia’s election system after his office repeatedly compromised Georgians’ personal information and failed for a decade to provide necessary support and training to Georgia counties.”
The Georgia General Assembly passed a bill this year that called for the state to replace its aging voting system with technology that creates a paper trail backup. State legislators earmarked $150 million for the voting system contract, but saved $43 million because Dominion bid $107 million for the contract.
Up to 10 Georgia counties will pilot the new Dominion system in this November’s local elections before being rolled out in time for the Presidential primary March 24, 2020.