— By Jozsef Papp, The Augusta Chronicle, October 28, 2019 —
EDITOR’S NOTE: The story’s headline has been changed to reflect that the voting system demonstration is being held throughout the fair.
Voters in the Augusta area will get a chance to try Georgia’s new voting system at the Columbia County Fair.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will be at the fair to show the new “secure paper-ballot voting system” during a mock election at the fair. The new system is replacing voting machines used in Georgia since 2002.
“Come by anytime to test drive this cool new system and see how easy it is to vote with a paper ballot that is both secure and auditable – while also being just as user-friendly as our current voting machines,” Raffensperger said in a release.
This summer, Raffensperger announced the state was purchasing a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, the Associated Press reported. The new system was certified Aug. 9 and will be in place for the March 24 presidential preference primary.
According to the release, the addition of paper ballots means recounts will no longer rely solely on machine readouts, an improvement that was a priority of Raffensperger when he took office. At the fair, people will be able to enter their choices on the new touchscreen machines, then cast a paper ballot into one of the locked ballot boxes that will be used to secure actual ballots.
The new machines will also offer features like switching to larger print, getting a verbal readout of the ballot and other accommodations for physical handicaps, according to the release. People will also be able to register to vote, change addresses and ask questions to state officials at the demonstration.
According to the release, more than 6,000 touchscreen machines have arrived and undergone Georgia’s quality assurance testing. Six counties are using the new system as a pilot in municipal elections, while another county is voting on hand-marked paper ballots that will be counted by new Dominion scanners.
In August, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg prohibited state officials from using the previous system beyond this year, the AP reported.
The demonstration will be available through the fair, which starts Thursday and runs until Nov. 10 at 5462 Columbia Road in Grovetown. It is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to midnight on Friday, from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 1 to 11 p.m. on Sunday.