A voting booth with a Sharpie is what Athens-Clarke County voters were greeted with starting March 4

A voting booth with a Sharpie is what Athens-Clarke County voters were greeted with starting March 4

The Georgia State Election Board is holding an emergency hearing in Athens next week to determine whether Athens-Clarke County is violating several state laws by not conducting elections on the state’s new $104 million voting system.

According to a notice sent to the county board of elections, Athens-Clarke officials should be prepared to present evidence explaining why it voted 3-2 to determine that it would be “impossible and impracticable” to use the ballot-marking devices. Athens-Clarke officials have moved to paper ballots instead.

The secretary of state’s office says it is investigation whether there are violations of at least six different state laws and rules regarding elections, including OCGA §§ 21-2-300, 21-2-265, 21-2-266, 21-2-267 and State Election Board Rules 183-1-12-.01 and 183-1-14-.02.

MORE: Athens-Clarke Ditches Electronic Voting Machines For Hand-Marked Paper Ballots


One of the laws mentioned mandates that every county use the same voting system, which Athens-Clarke is not following after the board cited a different state law that says an election may be conducted by hand-marked paper ballot if the use of the machines “is impossible or impracticable.”

Judd Drake, the county attorney, warned the board Tuesday night that making the decision to switch to paper ballots would likely face a lawsuit or a challenge.

A Sumter County Superior Court judge recently denied an emergency request to conduct a special election in that county using hand-marked paper ballots, writing that the plaintiffs had not proven it would be “impossible or impracticable” for officials to position the electronic machines in a way that protects ballot secrecy and allows poll workers to monitor voting.

A petition drafted by the Athens-Clarke Republican Party is calling for the removal of Board of Elections Chair Jesse Evans for an "added burden to the election process" and the "irresponsible actions" of switching to hand-marked paper ballots.

The hearing will be Wednesday, March 11, 2020 in Athens.