Athens-Clarke County Begins Testing, Preps As March Election Looms
The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections has begun testing components of Georgia’s new $104 million ballot-marking device voting system that will be used in less than a month for the presidential primary election.
Logic and accuracy testing began Tuesday morning for the system that includes BMDs, printers, polling place scanners and a central scanner that will process absentee ballots cast prior to Election Day.
At a nondescript county warehouse outside of Athens, polling officials inserted a stack of test ballots into the central scanner to ensure the equipment would properly process all of the possible options on the March 24 presidential primary, plus blank ballots and ballots that had more than one choice selected.
Election supervisor Charlotte Sosebee said that the logic and accuracy testing would take about two weeks to complete, starting with the absentee voting components and ending with the equipment being used on Election Day.
The county received nearly 300 ballot-marking devices, scanners and ballot boxes Monday, its election management system last Friday. Tuesday was also the earliest day counties could prepare absentee ballots and ballots for military and overseas voters, the first tangible deadline to meet for the March 24 presidential primary election.
Sosebee said the tight timeline for implementing the system across the county’s 20 polling places is not concerning, but it does alter her staff’s plans for both the testing and poll worker training which is scheduled to start next week.
“I would have liked to have a good bit of the [logic and accuracy testing] done, because it’s the same staff doing the L and A that’s also participating in poll worker training,” she said. But just like all election processes, there’s always a plan B, C, D, E and even on down to Z.”
Athens-Clarke and Georgia’s other 158 counties are rapidly preparing for the March 24 presidential primary election, the first major test for the Dominion ballot-marking device machines.
Several counties have conducted elections on the new system, both in an organized pilot process last November and through a pair of special elections in southwest Georgia. Nearly all of the issues reported in those elections were attributed to “human error,” ranging from failing to plug in a precinct scanner to a data entry error that caused poll pads to not work properly.
Additionally, not every county has received all of their equipment, although a court filing from the Secretary of State’s office shows delivery should be completed by the end of next week. All 159 counties have had at least some equipment to test and train since last fall.