Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Diverse Groups Petition Georgia State Election Board to Adopt Rules to Improve Elections

December 9, 2019

Coalition for Good Governance
Marilyn Marks, Executive Director

(ATLANTA, GA.) A group of politically diverse organizations has petitioned the State Election Board to adopt a set of four new rules for implementation in 2020 to improve the voting experience and election security for all voters. The group is employing a little-known provision of Georgia’s Election Code that permits interested persons to propose election rules to the State Election Board for consideration at the next Board meeting, which is scheduled for December 17, 2019.

The growing group of petitioners includes Coalition for Good Governance, the Libertarian Party of Georgia, the Constitution Party of Georgia, both the Morgan and Newton County Democratic Committees, and Georgia Advancing Progress PAC, demonstrating the wide political, as well as non-partisan, spectrum of support for more secure elections that reliably reflect voters’ decisions.

The group was motivated to seek election rules to help mitigate anticipated 2020 election difficulties because of problems exposed during the pilot of the new Dominion voting system in selected November elections; the system’s debugging and implementation risks; newly identified security risks; delayed equipment delivery; the massive training and logistics required before the March Presidential Primaries; and the large, unfunded cost burden of the new system to the public and counties.

Given the highly vulnerable nature of the new electronic pollbooks as experienced during the pilots, and the resulting perils of long lines and confusion, two of the proposed rules are aimed directly at avoiding likely long waits to vote:

  • Mail Ballots Returned at Polling Places. Allows voters to have their mail-in absentee ballots accepted at early voting locations and at their precinct on Election Day, eliminating the risks of mail delivery or ballot rejection for minor discrepancies. (Proposed Rule 1)
  • Paper PollBook Back-ups. Requires an updated printed pollbook in all precincts on Election Day, to be used in case of electronic pollbook discrepancies or malfunction. This reduces unnecessary provisional ballot issuance and polling place confusion from errors in e-pollbooks. (Proposed Rule 3)

The new voting system uses an oversized touchscreen with large fonts, which displays the voter’s choices in a manner that permits poll workers, other voters, and poll watchers to discern how a voter is voting. The improper loss of ballot secrecy must be immediately remedied:

  • Protecting Ballot Secrecy. Affirms the voters’ rights to an absolutely secret ballot by protecting ballot secrecy while allowing public observation. (Proposed Rule 2)

Lastly, equipment failures during the November pilots, extensive training requirements, and delays delivering new equipment to counties are reducing confidence that the new Dominion system will be debugged, installed and fully ready for statewide use during the March Presidential Preference Primary. Petitioners are asking the State Election Board to adopt a flexible rule:

  • Allowing an incremental voting system conversion. Would permit each county to choose the extent of system conversion that they could meet with confidence rather than requiring a complete immediate conversion to the numerous components required by the fully implemented Dominion BMD system,[1] thereby ensuring an orderly transition. This would also give counties time to find the resources needed to support the conversion, an activity that is becoming increasingly important as more details come out regarding the large unfunded cost burden to the public and counties. (Rule 4)

The Georgia State Election Board has the statutory duty to “formulate, adopt, and promulgate such rules and regulations, consistent with law, as will be conducive to the fair, legal, and orderly conduct of primaries and elections.” The proposals will be taken up at its December 17, 2019 meeting.

“These simple, low cost enhancements create higher voter confidence in the process, particularly when voters can deliver their hand marked paper ballot, voted at home and accepted at their polling place, as proposed in Rule 1,” remarked Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of Coalition for Good Governance. “And those mail ballot voters should be able to avoid lines of voters waiting to use the voting machines.”

Speaking for the Libertarian Party of Georgia, Symthe DuVal said, “The diverse, and even opposing, political parties and principles represented by the petitioners send the clear message that Americans’ desire for fair elections transcends party lines. Our coalition advances common goals that benefit all Georgians regardless of their political affiliation.” DuVal was the 2018 Secretary of State candidate for the Libertarian Party of Georgia.

“Georgians across the political spectrum want to be able to cast their vote with a minimum of hassle, and want to be sure that their votes are counted as cast,” says Jeanne Dufort, vice-chair of the Morgan County Democratic Committee. “County election boards across the state will welcome these common sense rules, particularly the flexibility to choose an implementation schedule they can reliably administer.”

“Many Asian American voters find it less intimidating and easier to vote absentee. During the 2018 election, voting absentee ended with a disproportionate amount of eligible Asian Americans getting their vote rejected for erroneous reasons,” said Cam T Ashling, Chair, Georgia Advancing Progress. “Adopting these new election rules strengthens civic participation in our democracy and everybody wins.”

“It is imperative that we as citizens be given a fair and safe opportunity to exercise our fundamental right to vote. What we should all seek is simply that – but this new system being implemented is leaving a sense of uncertainty that our right to vote is not safe and secure,” said Ryan Barrett, Chair, Newton County Democratic Committee, and Chair, Democratic Party of Georgia, US Congressional District 4.

All voters can participate in supporting these rules by signing the voter petition, sending the message to the State Election Board that Georgia voters desire to see these improvements.

If you cannot access the links in this email, please contact us and we will fax them to you. Alternatively, the Secretary of State’s office has copies which they can send.

Libertarian Party of Georgia
Smythe DuVal

Constitution Party of Georgia
Ricardo Davis, State Chair

Georgia Advancing Progress PAC
Cam T Ashling, Chair

Morgan County Democratic Committee
Jeanne Dufort, Vice Chair

Newton County Democratic Committee
Ryan Barrett, Chair

Coalition for Good Governance
Marilyn Marks, Executive Director

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[1] Rule 4 requires approval of the Court in the Curling v Raffensperger federal court case. As a result, Coalition for Good Governance is not an official petitioner in this rule.

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