Should Georgia switch to paper ballots?


There may be a move to leave the digital age when it comes to Georgia’s election process. The State Senate has passed Bill 403 to use paper ballots. It would still have to be approved in the House. The bill would move to a paper based system by the 2020 or 2024 presidential election, depending on when funding would be made available.

Former Georgia Congressman John Barrow is definitely supprting the idea although he would like to see paper ballots this year in time for the November election

“We’re using technology that was state of the art in 2002 but it’s far from being state of the art today,” Barrow told us recently.

Barrow who is a democrat, is running for Secretary of State in Georgia. Ironically, that office is in charge of state elections. He is calling on the current Secretary of State (republican Brian Kemp) to changed the system now.

Some critics of the statewide system say the machines use out of date software and that in 2016 there were at least a couple of hacking attempts. In one case – a young hacker made it inside a system, but it was not the state system, but rather a contractor that worked on some aspect of elections for the state. (There was no harm done in that case.)

Still Barrow says it shows the weaknesses in the entire system. He also says there isn’t a paper trail for ballots. “Where the ballot itself is nothing but a bunch of ones and zeros inside a machine that cannot be read and compared with what the voter actually did – that is not a reliable way to cast your vote and to count the votes after the fact,” Barrow told us.

Barrow and others say that paper ballots could still be scanned and counted electronically but the paper ballot would be retained to back up the count, “I certainly believe we need to go back to the future with using new and improved technology – to scan and evaluate ballots but to cast ballots in a more traditional fashion paper and pencil,” Barrow says.

We contacted spokespersons for Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Because Kemp is currently running for governor, we were referred to his campaign. Campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney sent us this statement:“Is this request coming from a Russian troll on Twitter or a career politician who thinks the world revolves around him? Either way, Barrow’s demand is ridiculous and so is his candidacy for Secretary of State. Kemp supports a voting system with a verifiable paper trail but he doesn’t take orders from a self-serving Barack Obama apologist who is clearly unqualified to oversee elections in Georgia.” –Ryan Mahoney, spokesperson Kemp for Governor

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