The Georgia State Senate votes today, Wednesday, March 13, on a bill that provides for a new statewide voting system. The measure, House Bill 316, has already passed the state House, and is supported by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
- Georgia lawmakers are preparing for final votes on a statewide voting system that’s strongly supported by government workers experienced in running elections and just as staunchly opposed by computing experts who see an imminent threat to election security.
- The Republican majority in the Georgia General Assembly is siding with election officials who want to install the new voting machinery…
- Democratic legislators are aligned with cybersecurity experts who prefer paper ballots bubbled in with pens, a voting method that avoids the inherent risks of a computerized system.
FROM VOTERGA (voterga.org). VoterGA is an independent watchdog group headed by Garland Favorito that closely monitors Georgia’s electoral system.
Will Lobbyists Steer Georgia into $350 Million Boondoggle?
ATLANTA GA – Why would Georgia legislators force taxpayers to buy the most expensive, least secure type of voting system? Why would a governor take out a 20 year bond to pay for a system that has a 10 year life span? Why would a bill authorize new devices to tabulate embedded votes in unverifiable bar codes when six systems tabulate human readable votes? Where is the fiscal note? The answers might be found in which vendors have the most powerful lobbyists.
HB316 has vendor specific language that favors an expensive system proposed by the incumbent vendor, ES&S. The bill attempts to subvert Georgia’s official full face ballot by authorizing small receipts with barcoded voting selections called “scanning ballots”. The small receipts that studies have proven to be unverifiable are produced by a system that ES&S wants to sell to Georgia and ES&S has doubled down on their lobbying efforts. Former lobbyist Chuck Harper is now the Chief of Staff for Gov. Kemp. ES&S also employs Georgia Link to lobby Speaker Ralston. Founder John “Trip” Martin is from Blue Ridge, the Speaker’s hometown.
In 2002, Lewis Massey successfully lobbied the state to purchase Georgia’s current highly criticized system. He then formed a partnership with Bruce Bowers and John Watson, the current chair of the Georgia Republican Party. They lobby for Unisyn a small voting system vendor that also proposed a system using a similar type of “scanning ballot”. These two vendors and their lobbyists could benefit if specific HB316 language tailored to their systems passes the Senate today.
VoterGA cost estimates confirmed by a new study from the Open Source Election Technology Institute show a statewide implementation costing taxpayers over $150 million initially and over $15 million annually. That is over $100 million more and $8 million more annually than systems which are more secure according to experts like Trump 2020 advisor Tony Shaffer. The $50+ million interest on the bond exceeds the entire cost of a more secure system preferred by experts. Total outlay surpasses $350 million over the next 10 years alone.
The state has already been notified that defiance of all cybersecurity experts will lead to extended federal lawsuits that will cost Georgia taxpayers millions more to defend. It also risks federal intervention into Georgia elections. These are just some of the reasons why HB316 has been dubbed a vendor bill, not a voter bill.
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