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State Will Hold Hearing on Athens’ Use of Paper Ballots

Early voters in the presidential primary are currently using paper ballots after the ACC Board of Elections voted last week to ditch the state’s new voting machines.

The board voted 3–2 Mar. 3 (with chairman Jesse Evans, Willa Fambrough and new member Rocky Raffle in favor, and Charles Knapper and Patricia Till opposed) to switch to paper ballots for the Mar. 24 presidential primary over concerns that the new machines’ large screens don’t give voters enough privacy. State law requires counties to use the voting system provided by the state unless it’s “impossible or impracticable.” County attorney Judd Drake told the board it will have a hard time meeting that standard, and Director of Elections and Voter Registration Charlotte Sosebee said privacy can be provided.

The board had previously voted to have paper ballots ready as a backup after Sosebee told it that many voting sites can’t handle the power demands of the new system, which requires voters to punch in their choices on a touchscreen, then prints a paper receipt that is scanned in.

The State Election Board has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 11 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education to determine if the ACC BOE acted legally. The board can fine ACC up to $5,000 for each violation.