One of my concerns (of many) connected with the new voting machines Georgia has adopted and mandated, is the fact that your drivers license/ID is not just looked at by poll workers to verify your identity, it is scanned, using the same machine that then prints out the card that you then insert into the actual voting machine, and which tells the machine which ballot to display.
I have asked, of course, and officials assure me that no information from the scanning of your ID is imprinted in any way onto that card. And this is probably true. But the fact remains: IDs are being scanned,
I have not been provided with a reason that we are suddenly scanning ids this year instead of just visually verifying them,
There is no way for a voter to individually, at the moment of voting, assure that information about their identity is not being imprinted on the card, we are to take, at face value, the official's assurances that it is not.
There is no way for a voter to individually, at the moment of voting, assure that the information about their identity is not then imprinted in the barcode that is on the printed ballot -the ballot that is scanned and tabulated. We are to take, at face value, the official assurance that is is not.
In light of these concerns – as “tinfoil hat” as they may be, a quote - made by State Senator Nikema Williams, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, and included in the Georgia Secretary of State’s press release announcing changes to the Presidential Preference Primary - continues to bother me.
“Georgians who have already cast their vote in person or by mail for the March 24 primary will be able to vote again in the May 19 primary for the elections already scheduled for that date. If Georgians who have already cast their vote for the March 24 primary do not vote again in the May 19 primary, their votes for the presidential preference primary will still count."
Clearly, votes already cast, cannot be “tossed out” and we cannot “start over” ... a fact acknowledged by the statement that the votes cast by those who have already voted will be counted “if they do not vote again on May 19”
Ok, so we have a bin full of ballots, already cast. These ballots, under law, should contain no marker that would identify who cast the ballot, they are just anonymous ballots.
So now lets skip to May 19, and imagine a scenario: I show up to vote. I say I already voted but according to this press release, am allowed to vote again. So I am given a new ballot and proceed to vote:
If my ID was not imprinted on that original ballot by means of my ID being scanned and included in that barcode, how will they know which ballot to invalidate due to my second vote?
Am I required to vote the same way I did in my first vote? If so, how is that verified unless they can “look at” my previous vote and insure I voted the same, and how is that possible if my ballot was not marked with my identity?
If I am not required to vote in the same way I did in my first vote, will that not allow me to now change my vote, potentially no longer voting for a candidate that has withdrawn from a race, for example, or switching my vote to a candidate who now exhibits a better chance of winning? Georgia law, as it currently stands, does not allow for the withdraw of a vote and a re-vote, in the case of a candidate who withdraws after a vote is place, that vote is still tallied for that candidate. This process would seem to allow that to happen.
Even disregarding those two concerns, how error-prone is a process that must “weed out” some votes, and leave in others, no matter the criteria of the “weeding”.
Even if this process does not intentionally include processes at odds with voter rights, procedures and laws, it process seems, in my opinion, to offer the opportunity for way too many “mistakes.”
Also concerning is the fact that there have been changes, minor perhaps, but changes nonetheless, in the press release posted on the Secretary of State's website regarding this issue. There is no notification within the header, text, or body of the press release to indicate that there has been a change or update, nor has the new text been posted under a new press release item, the changes have simply been made to the original press release without citation. While this may not be changes worthy of even notice in this case, the fact that that an official government document - one specifically for use by journalists - was changed several hours after its initial release, without citation, is to me, a concern.
It is very possible I am completely missing some process, procedure, law or reasoning that would make this issue less concerning. I am actually hoping I am, because otherwise, Georgia voting legitimacy, already viewed with suspicion on a national level, has just gone from bad to worse.
Full press release text, as of 7:30 p.m. March 15
ATLANTA -- In light of the public health emergency posed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in-person voting presents increased risk to voters and poll workers. Governor Kemp has declared a public health emergency. President Trump has declared a national emergency, said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. "Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large."
Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston agreed.
“I support Secretary Raffensperger’s decision to delay the presidential preference primary and other March elections until May," he said. "This will ensure an orderly and safe elections process and is in the best interest of Georgia’s citizens.”
The Democratic Party of Georgia is also in accordance.
"Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Georgians and to ensure that as many Georgians as possible have an opportunity to vote," said State Senator Nikema Williams, the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. "Continued in-person voting could compromise both goals. Georgians who have already cast their vote in person or by mail for the March 24 primary will be able to vote again in the May 19 primary for the elections already scheduled for that date. If Georgians who have already cast their vote for the March 24 primary do not vote again in the May 19 primary, their votes for the presidential preference primary will still count."
Secretary Raffensperger has represented that all votes already cast in person and all absentee ballots will be counted and every Georgia voter that has not yet had a chance to cast a ballot in the March 24 elections will be able to do so on May 19, along with the elections already scheduled for that date."
"Given these circumstances, I believe it is necessary and prudent to suspend in-person voting in the Presidential Preference Primary, and the local elections associated with them, and resume in-person voting for those elections as part of the already scheduled May 19 General Primary."
The CDC recommends those, including seniors, who are at greater risk from COVID-19 limit their exposure to the virus by keeping space between themselves and others, avoiding crowds, and staying at home during outbreaks in their community. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has likewise identified individuals 65-years-old and older as facing increased risk from COVID-19. He explained that older Americans infected with COVID-19 stand a greater risk of serious difficulty and even death from the virus. All individuals should practice social distancing and minimize contact with others to minimize the risk to them and others.
With this decision, Secretary Raffensperger looks to confront the public health threat to our state, and the health of Georgians, while also maintaining an avenue for the people of Georgia to exercise their fundamental democratic right to vote. In the midst of a public health emergency like the one facing our state, taking strong action to protect all Georgians, including its dedicated poll workers, is paramount