Georgia Ramps Up New Voting Machine Delivery As Election Deadline Looms
Standing at the edge of a DeKalb County loading dock, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joined several reporters and elections staff as a nondescript white truck slowly backed up to unload its cargo.
The truck was loaded with battery backups that will help power 2,839 ballot-marking devices used by DeKalb voters in future elections. It was the first of many shipments arriving that day.
While the holiday season has made coordinating deliveries to local officials tricky, Raffensperger said that more than 25,000 of the 33,100 BMDs are tested and in the state’s control and 32 of Georgia’s 159 counties have received nearly all of their new voting machines and accessories.
Cobb County (2,039 machines) is waiting on final pieces of equipment, DeKalb County (2,839) is currently being delivered and in the next few weeks Fulton (3,058) and Gwinnett counties (2,257) will receive most of their equipment.
“So, that represents 34% of all the voting equipment for the entire state of Georgia,” Raffensperger said.
He added that because 70% of the machines are in a state warehouse ready to go, the state could be doing more deliveries this week. But many local elections officials are on vacation for the holidays, so shipments will be scheduled later this week when people return.
When asked about the large number of counties that still need their full deliveries of voting machines, printers, scanners and other equipment, the secretary of state said that after the large metro counties get taken care of it will be easier to make multiple smaller deliveries to counties that only need a few machines.
Still, many voting rights groups are watching closely to see if the state can complete the largest-ever single rollout of voting machines in time for the March 24 presidential primary.
"When will they be fully delivered? Why the ever-changing deadline?," voting rights group Fair Fight Action tweeted on Monday.
Fair Fight and other organizations published an analysis of the initial request for proposal that argued counties weren't being given enough voting machines earlier this month. Around the same time, the state released updated numbers that showed 3,000 additional machines were purchased and many counties were getting more machines than legally required by HB 316 signed earlier this year.
When will they be fully delivered?
Why the ever-changing deadlines?
Why were initial counts too low until we issued a report?
Standing in the DeKalb County warehouse, Raffensperger pointed to row after row of shrink-wrapped direct-recording electronic machines as another piece of the logistical puzzle that needed to be considered.
“A lot of the counties need us to come take the old stuff so they have room for the new stuff,” he said. “It's really an exchange: when we deliver, then we pick up and take back the old DRE machines and then we're storing them, because right now Judge Totenberg wants us to sequester those.”
Federal Judge Amy Totenberg is currently hearing a legal challenge to electronic voting in Georgia, and earlier this year issued a ruling banning the state from using the outdated touchscreen DREs after 2019.
The state said storing the old machines will cost around $30,000 a month to rent a warehouse large enough to store the roughly 27,000 machines and associated equipment.