Election Integrity experts are not happy with Senate Bill 403 because it leaves the door wide open for Georgia to select insecure systems rather than slamming that door shut in favor of secure and verifiable systems. SB 403 does not mandate a voter-marked paper ballot, marked either by hand or accessible ballot marking device that is counted by a ballot scanner. It allows that possibility, but it also allows for insecure voting machines that record, count and report the voter’s selections while purporting to offer a paper record to the voter. Not only is the door to insecure voting wide open, but the bill language could be read to require all voters to vote on an electronic ballot marking device. That outcome would be needlessly expensive for Georgia taxpayers but it would be more than a welcome outcome for voting system vendors who are anxious to sell as many machines as possible.
The other major flaw with SB 403 is its failure to ensure that the voter marked paper ballots are preserved and available for recounts and audits. It also fails to mandate that the human readable marks and texts on paper ballots control over any electronic reporting of voter choices. Even though Verified Voting and others tried to insert language in the bill that would require audits and recounts to be conducted using the human readable parts of the paper ballots, that language was stripped out of the bill in the House. Without a trustworthy record of the voters’ choices and without an audit process that is a meaningful check that the electronically recorded and reported results are accurate, SB 403 will perpetuate the cycle of unverifiable voting in Virginia.
“Georgia voters need a verifiable and secure voting system so that they can be confident election results are accurate. SB 403 does not guarantee that. The only people who are happy with SB 403 are voting system vendors who are salivating over the chance to sell many more machines than necessary.