Paper ballots? Group asks county to move on from Dominion

Published 10:48 am Thursday, January 18, 2024

On Tuesday night, a group of citizens addressed the Troup County Board of Commissioners asking that the county stop using Dominion Voting Systems and switch to paper balloting.

The speakers were led off by LaGrange resident Keenan Knight, who presented several reasons to return to paper ballots.

“We champion secure and transparent elections that are the rights of all citizens, transcending barriers and barriers of race, creed, political party and background,” Knight said. “This is a nonpartisan issue. We’ve heard the distrust of electronic voting systems with proprietary code that cannot be audited. We’ve seen the sloppy chain of custody protocols with unlimited mailing ballots. We will get proof of the accuracy of hand-counting paper ballots.”

Knight argued that the county needs paper ballots that are hand-counted in person on Election Day. He said this decentralizes the process and allows for greater transparency.

Knight attacked the Dominion Voting System demanding that the county stop using it, noting it is not trusted and is illegal because the paper printouts are not verifiable by the voter.

“It is illegal, unverifiable to the voter, inaccurate, unsecure and it is an unnecessary financial burden. The system is illegal and unverifiable to voters because it accumulates votes within a QR code and that cannot be read by the voter,” Knight said.

Hogansville resident Charlotte Tucker said that Dominion’s touchscreen systems were developed without sufficient attention to security, according to expert analysis during its design, software engineering and testing. She claimed the system’s security is broken beyond repair.

“We don’t trust the vendor who sold it and will never trust the secretary of state who purchased it and covered up the problems. The people of Georgia deserve honest, transparent elections. We mean hand-marked paper ballots, with publicly recorded hand counts at the precincts and tabulating centers. Nothing else will secure the 2024 elections,” Tucker said.

LaGrange resident Jason Hill provided a video of congressional testimony from Dr. Alex Halderman in 2017. In the short video, Halderman, a professor of computer science, argued that electronic voting systems are vulnerable to hacking that could potentially change the results of an election.

Halderman said that many believe that voting computers cannot be hacked because they are not connected to the internet.

“Voting machines are not as distinct from the internet as they may seem. Before every election, they need to be programmed with race candidates and that programming is created on a desktop computer and then transferred to voting machines,” Halderman said in his testimony.

Many residents attended the commissioners meeting in support of the switch but did not wish to speak. More than a dozen supporting the change stood up when asked to do so.

County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews thanked the citizens for sharing their concerns and suggested that they bring them to the board of elections.

“We understand your desire to make sure there are fair and honest elections. We’ve wrestled with that over the years that I’ve served, at least the time that I can speak of. We appointed an election board several years ago to make sure they oversaw the elections, and our primary purpose was to make sure we have fair and honest elections,” Crews said.

“This really should be worked through the election board, to present to them these ideas that you have and things that we need to look up and research because we’ve already asked our county attorney to kind of look into the legalities of this,” Crews said.

Crews also noted that the process for any change in elections is very complicated and they have primaries coming up soon.

“In 60 days, to change our election process would be most difficult,” he said.

Election Board Chairman Bill Stump said they can’t just switch to paper balloting just because county residents or the commissioners want to do so.

The method of voting is prescribed by Georgia Law.

Georgia Code does allow for paper ballots, but only when the use of voting machines is not possible or practicable.

“If you read the Georgia State Code, that’s all we’re supposed to work with. It’s very clear that how we handle our elections on a county, state national level is directed by secretary of state and that’s what Georgia Law says,” Stump said.

Stump said that before every election, the voting machines are tested to make sure they match hand counts.

Stump noted that there are some concerns with Dominion and with the QR code, but paper ballots aren’t perfect either.

“I can’t see us going back to paper ballots. Paper ballots, they disappear,” Stump said. “With the machine and then the hand count, at least you have something to balance. If you have pure paper ballots, what do you check back to? Then you have to worry about if all the paper ballots make it from point A to point B.”