Georgia has chosen a vendor to replace all of the state’s aging voting machines.
Dominion Voting Systems won the nearly $107 million contract to provide all 159 Georgia counties with electronic touch screens that produce a paper copy of the ballot.
The system will be in place in time for the state’s presidential primary in March.
Georgia is the latest state to move away from electronic voting devices that leave no paper trail.
“Elections security is my top priority,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a press release. “We look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”
Dominion was chosen from among several vendors who took part in the bidding process, including the current voting system provider, ES&S. The changed was prompted by House Bill 316, which appropriated $150 million for the switch.
The state faces multiple lawsuits over the security of its current voting system. Cybersecurity experts have pointed out the vulnerability of the current touch screen devices, known as DREs, which date back to 2002. Those machines do not produce a paper back up.
There are also questions about computers running GEMS, the state’s election management system and whether they are exposed to malware when connected to a phone line or have a USB device inserted.
As part of the lawsuits, voting-rights groups are asking a federal judge to compel Georgia to use hand-marked paper ballots for local elections this fall while the new system is put into place.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg listened to two-days worth of testimony last week as lawyers from both sides argued over the feasibility of introducing hand-marked paper ballots for November.
Lawyers for the state called elections officials from counties as big as Fulton and as small as Morgan to testify about the time and money it would cost to use hand-marked paper ballots on an interim basis. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that a lack of a paper trail deprives Georgia voters of assurances that their votes are counted accurately.
Judge Totenberg’s decision is expected within days.