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Fw: electionline.org ALERT -- August 16, 2002: Election Administration Preview of August 20 Georgia Primary

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Sent: Friday, August 16, 2002 4:49 PM
Subject: electionline.org ALERT -- August 16, 2002: Election Administration Preview of August 20 Georgia Primary



Georgia Primary – August 20, 2002


Major Races: Republican nomination for Governor; Republican nomination for U.S. Senator; nominations for 13 Congressional seats; nominations for Secretary of State and other statewide constitutional offices; and nominations for all state legislative seats.


Voting Systems: With Georgia’s new statewide touch-screen system set to debut in the November election, Tuesday could mark the last major election for counties’ current voting systems – paper ballots (2 counties), lever machines (73), punch cards (16), optical scanners (66) and touch screens (2). A slide show identifying what system each county uses can be found at: http://www.sos.state.ga.us/vote_comm/election_terms_files/frame.htm


Background: Tuesday’s primary features a number of key races on the ballot with national implications. But perhaps just as significant, Georgia’s counties will use different voting machine types for the last time in a major statewide election, excluding a possible September runoff contest. When voters go to the polls in November, they will use a new $54 million Diebold touch-screen system. In doing so, the state will become the first to go completely high-tech. The total overhaul of Georgia’s elections system began almost immediately after November 2000, when the state experienced a high number of spoiled punch-card ballots as well as long lines at the polls. Officials have said that only the wide margin of George W. Bush’s victory in the state prevented Georgia from being “another Florida.” In 2001, the state legislature, with the backing of Secretary of State Cathy Cox, required all counties to adopt a more modern, uniform voting system by 2004. A state commission subsequently examined options and eventually recommended Diebold’s machines. The state inked its deal with the company for 19,000 new touch-screens in May of 2002. “This is a massive undertaking. We’re excited to be the first to do this,” said state elections director Linda Beazley.


New in Election Administration:


●  New Machines: Two counties – Hall and Marion – will use the new touch-screen machines Tuesday, due to problems with their prior systems. Beazley said Georgia officials will be closely monitoring the results in those two counties as a possible harbinger of what might happen in the fall. Although the rest of the state’s 159 counties will not use the touch-screens to record actual votes, at least one will be available for demonstration purposes in every Georgia precinct. Beazley said the state will use Tuesday as an opportunity to educate voters on how to use the new machines in preparation for November. In 2001, several municipalities experimented with touch-screen machines during local elections.


●  Old Machines: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in July that New York State has agreed to purchase 400 lever machines from Georgia once they are phased out after the primary elections.  


●  Legislation: S.B. 213 authorized the state to purchase the new uniform touch-screen system. It also allows counties to purchase additional direct recording electronic (DRE) machines beyond what the state has allotted to them, but they must do so at their own cost. Currently, the state has purchased about one machine per 200 voters. Cherokee County, for example, will purchase about 170 machines, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The bill also gave the Secretary of State’s office the ability to remove dead voters from the rolls.


●  Legislation: S.B. 414 established provisional balloting for voters who claim to be properly registered but do not appear on the rolls when they show up to vote. The law however does not go into effect until October, so provisional ballots will not be available Tuesday.


●  Voter Education: In an effort to familiarize voters with the impending switch to new voting technology, the Secretary of State’s office created positions for 13 regional voter education coordinators. They have already been at work for two months, Beazley said. The state will also mail a color brochure with instructions for how to use the new machines to every registered voter in the state.


●  Precinct Locations: Georgia residents can now locate their polling places and figure out who they are able to vote for at the Secretary of State’s web site.  




Georgia elections office web site: http://www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/


Atlanta elections office web site: http://www.co.fulton.ga.us/Registration/


Poll times: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.