As of the March 2020 Presidential Preference Primary election, Athens-Clarke County voters will begin using new voting equipment for the first time in nearly 20 years. The new system is paper based, while still using secure technology for voter accuracy. The new system is managed by the Georgia Secretary of State's office for use throughout Georgia and completely replaces the previous voting system.
"I'm excited to use the new system and for Athens-Clarke County voters to try it out for themselves," says Charlotte Sosebee, Athens-Clarke County Director of Elections and Voter Registration. "The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary."
When voting with the new system, a voter will check in using a photo ID and receive a voter access card, which does not contain any information about the voter. Using touchscreen ballot marking devices, a voter will make their selections, review their selections onscreen, print out a paper ballot, review their selections in-hand, and scan their paper ballot into an optical scanner themselves when ready.
This provides an opportunity for voters to review their ballot both onscreen and in-hand. Voters will be alerted onscreen if they leave a section blank, don't cast a vote, or do not make all available selections, but will not be required to cast a vote in any race or to make all available selections. After scanning a ballot, the ballot is deposited into a secure container. Voters will not take the ballot with them.
The new system not only creates digital images of all ballots, but also securely keeps the printed versions for the Board of Elections as a paper trail for recounts or audits, if needed.
The Board of Elections has a test unit available for the public to try out until early February. The unit can be tested at the Board of Elections Office, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. The unit has a series of questions about Georgia to allow voters to try out different kinds of votes, such as those that might require multiple selections in a single election.
Staff will also have a test unit at several public events and locations scheduled during December and January. Locations currently confirmed are:
- Thurs., Dec. 19 – 4:00-6:00 p.m. – Georgia Square Mall at the Center Court, 3700 Atlanta Highway
- Sat., Dec. 21 – 1:00-3:00 p.m. – Georgia Square Mall at the Center Court, 3700 Atlanta Highway
- Thurs., Jan. 9 – 8:45 a.m. - Noon – Athens-Clarke County Regional Library, 2025 Baxter Street
- Tues., Jan. 14 – Noon-2:00 p.m. – Iris Place in the Atrium, 755 Epps Bridge Parkway
- Fri., Jan. 17 – 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. – Athens Community Career Academy in the Common Area, 440 Dearing Extension
- Sun., Jan. 19 – Noon until parishioners leave – Ebenezer Baptist West, 205 N. Chase Street, in the Vestibule
- Tues., Jan. 21 – 8:00 a.m. - Noon – Miriam Moore Community Center, 410 McKinley Drive, Suite 101
- Wed., Feb. 5 – 10:00 a.m. - Noon – Saint Mary’s Hospital, 1230 Baxter Street, in the Atrium/Lobby
Additional locations and dates may be added and will be listed at accgov.com/elections.
The Georgia Secretary of State has also launched the Secure The Vote website at www.securevotega.com that contains information about how to vote using the new equipment, the legislative process of purchasing the equipment from Dominion, frequently asked questions, online voter registration, newspaper articles about counties that took part in the pilot project, and additional information about the new equipment.
For more information about the local demonstration units, visit accgov.com/elections or contact the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections at 706-613-3150.