The rush is on to implement a new voting system before the 2020 elections.
The old county election equipment was picked up Jan. 21. The new equipment will be delivered Feb. 3.
Georgia is replacing a paperless voting system with a new set of machines that will provide a paper trail. That system includes large bins for holding paper ballots that take up considerable space — too much to house at the county elections office.
Madison County commission chairman John Scarborough said the election equipment can be secure at the old Fine Finish building off Hwy. 98 where the sheriff’s office already has investigative offices. He said he spoke directly with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when he visited the county on his 159-county tour of the state. He said he asked if the equipment must be stored at the elections office and was told that this was not a requirement. He said the roof leaks in places but added that he is seeking prices on replacing that roof, which must be done whether or not the equipment is stored there.
“It’s kind of killing two birds with one stone,” he said, adding that it’s much more economical to house the equipment in the old Fine Finish building than to add on to the elections office. He said a security camera will be installed in the storage room to make sure there’s no tampering.
Madison County Board of Elections and Registration chairperson Tracy Dean approached county commissioners in the fall to request the construction of additional storage space at the county elections office. The board declined to take action.
Dean said the state only allows non-electronic election equipment to be stored away from the elections office. She anticipates having as many as 20 large bins that will hold paper ballots. Those bins cannot be stacked on top of each other. Dean said the electronic scanner on top of the bins can be removed. And those scanners will be kept in the elections office, while the bins and other equipment, such as tables and stands will be in the off-site storage room. Dean said it will be a challenge to house equipment in two locales and to transport all of the equipment to the 12 polling precincts.