Chatham County voters test out new paper ballot voting system

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Voters in Chatham County got a chance to test out the new paper ballot voting system ahead of the presidential primary election on Tuesday, March 24.

News 3 first got a closer look at the new system back in December when the Secretary of State debuted it.

The A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI) hosted two workshops in Savannah Thursday. The morning workshop was at 11:00 a.m. at the Southwest Chatham Library. The evening workshop was at 6:30 p.m. at the International Longshoremen (ILA) Hall.

Sharyl Sutton, a Voter Education Coordinator from Secure the Vote, said she has held dozens of these meetings across the state to introduce voters to the system before the primaries.

“People are really excited about the system and they have a good reason to be excited,” Sutton said. “Now there are three ways to recount an audit. The paper ballot itself is the intent of the voter, and then we have the QR code and then the image taken by the scanner.”

Both events had Board of Elections officials who are prepared to teach people how to use the new machines. State and local representatives said they want to help people feel confident to cast their ballot in the upcoming elections.

“We need to make sure the message is clear out there, people want to come to the polls and vote, and we don’t want to put any barriers and we want to eliminate any barriers for keeping them from being able to express that vote.” James Jones, the Communications Chair for the A. Philip Randolph Institute said.

Jones hopes their workshops will prevent voters from not showing up on election day due to the recent system changes.

“There’s a change and a lot of times we don’t like change, and most people when they see change they fear change because they think it’s not as um, easy to manipulate through the system so my goal, Jerome’s goal, and A. Philip Randolph’s goal was to make sure we break those barriers: make it as simple as possible, make it as amenable as possible for people to use the voting machines,” Jones relayed.

All 159 counties across the state will use the touchscreen and printed-out paper ballot voting system. Organizers of the events said they believe educating the public can improve the electoral body and help people trust the voting process.

Jerome Irwin Sr., the APRI’s president, said everyone needs to utilize their voting rights by showing up to the polls.

“I feel as though every person should have a right to vote, and the thing is, if we don’t use our right to vote then we have no right to complain. So we need to get out and vote so we can have our voice heard,” Irwin stated.

For more information about the new voting system, you can visit the Secure the Vote website here.

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