Locals get sneak peek at Georgia's new voting machines

Friday, November 1, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Officials are working to get 32,000 new voting machines in place across 159 counties in Georgia.

Voters in Richmond and Columbia County will see this new system for the first time during the Presidential Primaries in March. But today was a trial run to make sure the first time people vote, they know how they work.

It was Columbia County voter, Bonnie Rowe's first time casting her practice ballot on the new voting machines. While the touch screens and chip cards look intimidating, she says it's not only easier, but it's safer.

"I think it's safer and I really, really wish that it was going to be this way all over the United States because that thing concerns me more than anything else is the voter fraud," Rowe said.

A year ago, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp beat Stacey Abrams by around 55,000 votes. The close race, fueled by long lines and aging technology at the polls, led to a debate over fair elections.

The new system is computerized so you'll enter your choices with a touch screen computer. You then get a print-out ballot and you put the print-out into the ballot scanner, which then puts it into the ballot box.

"When we were using the old system there was really no way to do a physical recount," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said.

Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, says the new system adds an extra layer of security and reassurance during close races. Elections officials can compare the ballots on the computer to the paper ballots in the box.

"At the end of the day, we all want our person to win,"Raffensperger said. "In these days and times that we live in, I understand that half will be happy, half will be sad, but I think 100% will have the assurance that we got it right."

The new technology has also sparked a lot of backlash from election security experts across the country. Many experts wrote letters to state officials warning that electronic machines that print paper ballots will be vulnerable to hacks or malfunction.

If you want to see and test out the new machines, you can find them at the Columbia County fair for the next two weeks.

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