For Immediate Release: March 20, 2018
Contact: Susan Greenhalgh, NEDC Policy Director
917 796 8782
Fiscal Hawks and Election Advocates Oppose Georgia Election Machine Bill
Citing unnecessary spending and a give-away to voting system vendors, leading election integrity and taxpayer advocates call on lawmakers to vote NO on SB 403
Atlanta, GA – A bill aimed to replace Georgia’s aging voting machines with a new systems that will provide voter-verified paper ballots – a critical election security and transparency best measure - is moving through the legislature. But leading advocates of good government and fiscal responsibility are opposing the bill calling it a “boondoggle.” While directing the secretary of state to purchase a new system, SB 403 would permit Secretary Kemp to purchase computerized ballot marking devices for use by all voters, a scheme viewed by fiscal hawks and local citizens’ groups as needlessly expensive and as a “give away” to voting system vendors.
In anticipation of purchasing new election systems, last year Secretary Kemp organized a trial of “ExpressVote” ballot marking devices for an election in Rockdale. In the trial all voters used the ExpressVote to make their vote selections. ExpressVote is a computerized device designed with accessibility features (such as audio output and sip and puff technology) that allows disabled voters to vote privately and independently. The device also produces a paper summary of vote choices that can be used to audit or recount election results. However, election experts and fiscal hawks are decrying Kemp’s plan to use of ExpressVote for all voters, as Secretary Kemp trialed in Rockdale, as a needlessly expensive give-away to voting system vendors.
“Over 70% of the country votes on paper ballots are marked directly by the voter with a pen that costs less than a dollar,” said Ben Ptashnik, executive director of the National Election Defense Coalition. “While it is essential to provide accessible ballot marking devices for voters that may require assistance, it’s ludicrous to require the use of a $3000 computer device for all voters to do the same job as a pen. Kemp’s plan would cost Georgia taxpayers over $100 million, while testimony before the legislature shows that Georgia can purchase a new voting system with voter-marked paper ballots and assistive ballot marking devices for disabled voters for approximately $30 million.”
“The system proposed by Secretary Kemp amounts to a boondoggle for the voting system vendors,” said Jason Pye, a Covington resident and advocate for fiscal responsibility. “Georgia taxpayers should reject this bill and insist their lawmakers look out for the best interest of Georgia voters, not the voting system vendors.”
The NEDC is a national network of recognized experts in cybersecurity and elections administration, bipartisan policymakers, and concerned citizens. We are working to build a bipartisan consensus on the need for reform, while building a comprehensive, cost-effective plan to secure the vote in coming elections.
At a time of extreme partisan polarization, we believe that the issue of election security is a rare area of agreement. Key constituencies include civil rights advocates, Libertarians, national security conservatives and the tech community.