Special Election Includes Few User Errors

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, January 31st, 2020

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there were just two minor issues but expressed overall pleasure in the performance of Georgia’s new secure paper-ballot system during Tuesday’s special election.

“The new secure paper-ballot system continued to function well in this special election as it had during the November pilot and December runoff,” Raffensperger said. “The types of small human errors that occurred Tuesday are the kinds of miscues that occur in every election, no matter the type of equipment.

“The transition to any new system will inevitably trigger some human error, and we experienced some minor ones Tuesday. Our challenge is to scale up this success to more than 2,000 polling places in March for the Presidential Preference Primary. That’s a lot of new users and a lot of opportunity for these types of minor errors.”

The special election in Mitchell, Colquitt and Decatur counties was for the balance of the current term of House District 171 that became vacant with the unexpected death of Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla. Early voting began Jan. 6, and the election was Tuesday.

It is the first election in Mitchell and Colquitt counties using Georgia’s new secure paper-ballot system, but it is the second in Decatur, which participated in a pilot with five other counties during the November municipal elections.

A handful of voter-access cards were not working until it was discovered that a poll worker had been inserting them the wrong way when coding them. And 13 ballots had to be placed in an emergency ballot box when a ballot scanner lost power until a technician discovered it had not been plugged in. None of these issues delayed polling places from opening on time or prevented anyone from voting.

Early voting continues in nine other Southwest Georgia counties for the special election in Senate District 13 caused by the death of Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus.” Election Day for that contest is Feb. 4.

Every county will use the new system statewide for the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary.

“Rep. Powell and Sen. Kirk’s unfortunate deaths forced the state and the counties to speed up the timetable for implementing the new paper-ballot system, and everyone stepped forward admirably,” Raffensperger said. “Rolling it out across 159 counties during the primary is a bigger task, and some human errors can be expected, naturally.”

Raffensperger traveled to Camilla to observe Tuesday’s voting and also met with local elections officials in parts of Senate District 13.

An audit of the House election will be done of the results in Lee County. It is scheduled for Feb. 10 at the Lee County Commission meeting room, 100 Starksville Ave., Leesburg, GA.

The Georgia Secretary of State is the state’s chief election officer. County election officials run the actual elections and handle voter registration.