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What to know about Georgia’s new voting machines
Voting machine
Mandi Smith, director of Forsyth County’s voter registrations and elections department, stands with one of Forsyth County's new voting machines. The county received more than 500 of the machines in the first update to the state system since 2002. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

New Voting Machines

By: Jon Benson III

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The new voting system will mostly operate like the previous voting system, where voters were signed-in, given a card with their data on it to be plugged into the machines, voted on the machines and returned to the poll worker, with the adoption of the printed ballot.

Voting in Georgia will look a little different in 2020 as the state moves to a new voting system, but Forsyth County officials are already working with the new machines to make sure they are ready for voters.

Mandi Smith, director of Forsyth County’s voter registrations and elections department, recently gave Forsyth County News a demonstration of the new machines, which unlike the previous system will include a printed receipt after votes are cast.

“The difference between the two is now you will have a printed ballot to review,” Smith said. “In the old system, it was still a touch screen, you still had a voter access card, but all the information was captured electronically. Now with the new system, you’re going to have the printed ballot to review, and that printed ballot is what is going to be recorded.”

Voting Machines
The county's new voting machines will operate similarly to the previous system, with the addition of a printed ballot that will be handed-in to elections officials. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

“They will take their printed ballot, review it, make sure all the information is what they want it to be, then they will be directed over to the ballot box, where they will be instructed by the poll worker to insert their ballot in, and it’s at that point the ballot is cast,” Smith said.

Smith said Forsyth County received more than 500 of the new machines, which came in last week, and since then, the office has been training poll workers for upcoming elections, including the March 24 presidential preference primary.

“Lots of training has been taking place,” she said. “Again, this is a new system for all the voters, and it’s certainly a new system for us in the office and it’s a new system for all our poll workers, as well, so many hours of training are going into training all the poll workers before Election Day.”

The new voting system was a big political issue in 2019, with some wanting the state to go toward hand-marked paper ballots. Concerns about election security caused a federal judge last year to order Georgia to replace its outdated, paperless voting system before any ballots are cast in 2020, according to the Associated Press. The state approved $106 million for the purchase of the new system, the first new machines since 2002.

Along with new voting machines, Smith said voters should also be aware of precinct changes approved in 2019 by the local elections board, including moving Election Day voting for the Chestatee Precinct to the Atlanta Cricket Fields at 5395 Keith Bridge Road and adding four new precincts:

• Johns Creek Precinct (Johns Creek Baptist, 6910 McGinnis Ferry Road) out of the South Forsyth, Old Atlanta and Big Creek precincts;

• Sawnee Precinct (Hwy. 20 Operations Center, 1605 Canton Highway) out of the Otwell, Midway and Heardsville precincts;

• Fowler Precinct (Fowler Park, 4110 Carolene Way) out of the Brandywine and Polo precincts;

• Nichols Precinct (Old Atlanta Park, 810 Nichols Road) out of the South Forsyth Precinct.

Advance voting will be held for three weeks ahead of elections at the Forsyth County Voter Registrations and Elections Office (1201 Sawnee Drive), Hampton Park Library (5345 Settingdown Road), Midway Park Community Building (5100 Post Road), Sharon Springs Park Community Building (1950 Sharon Road) and the Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Operations Center (1605 Canton Highway).

Advance voting for the presidential preference primary starts on March 2, and the last day to register for that race is Monday, Feb. 24. If needed, a runoff would be held on April 21.

Other election days this year are for the Federal/State/Local General Primary and Non-Partisan General Election on May 19, the runoff for that race on July 21 and the Nov. 3 General Election, which will have runoffs on Dec. 1 for state and local elections and Jan. 5 for federal races, if needed.

Registration for elected offices will be held March 2-6.

For more information on local elections, including the precinct changes, go to Forsythco.com/Departments-Offices/Voter-Registrations-Elections. Voters can also make sure their voter registration is up to date at MVP.sos.ga.gov