Gov. Nathan Deal said he’s leaving it up to lawmakers to hash out a measure that would replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines, but that he prefers a plan that includes a version of paper ballots.
The Republican said Tuesday an overhaul of the voting system is not on his agenda and that he’s likely to sign whatever emerges from the Legislature. But he said the push to require some sort of paper backup is a compelling one.
“I understand the argument that we need something on a paper ballot to be able to verify what is actually done,” he said. “Because otherwise it is very difficult to give comfort to some people that their vote is actually recorded.”
Georgia is one of five states to rely entirely on electronic voting machines that don’t leave an independent paper backup. A pending measure, Senate Bill 403, would replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a paper-based system that doesn’t commit to a specific format.
Opponents of the measure, including election integrity groups and House Democrats, say it allows the state to continue to rely on voting methods that could be vulnerable to hacking and doesn’t truly commit to paper ballots for audits and recounts.
State Rep. Ed Setzler, a sponsor of the bill, said the overhaul will take an initial step to “get us to paper” and allow state and local officials to round out the policies and formats.
The governor said he’s likely to “support whatever the General Assembly comes out with” but that he’s encouraged by the direction of the debate.
He added: “From what I have seen, it looks like a reasonable approach is being taken.”