Cathy Watkins of Cartersville inserts her printed-out ballot into a scanner Thursday after voting on Georgia’s new voting machines. Voters in six counties across the state, including Bartow County and its city of Cartersville, are testing the new voting system in this fall’s elections. Voters across Georgia will use the machines in the March 24 presidential primary. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM
Photo: MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM
Photo: MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

How DeKalb residents can try out Georgia’s new voting machines

This story has been updated with the new date for the town hall event.

An upcoming event in DeKalb County will give residents the chance to try out Georgia’s new voting machines before they see a full rollout in the spring.

A town hall hosted by DeKalb Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson will include interactive demonstrations of the new machines and information on voter registration, the commissioner’s office said Tuesday.

All of Georgia's electronic voting machines are being replaced with a new voting system before the March 24 presidential primary. The new voting equipment prints out paper ballots, providing a way to check electronic results after years of complaints of alleged voting irregularities and security issues.

The panel is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Porter Sandford Performing Arts Center, located at 3181 Rainbow Dr. in Decatur. Residents can arrive from 4 to 6 p.m. to try out the new machines.

MORE: How Georgia’s new voting machines work

“I want to ensure DeKalb residents have faith in the system and equal access to voting free of disenfranchisement,” Cochran-Johnson said in a statement.

The town hall was announced in November as state election officials prepared to remove 313,000 of the state’s 7.4 million registered voters because they moved away or haven’t participated in elections for at least seven years.

All of Georgia’s electronic voting machines are being replaced before the March 24 presidential primary. The new voting system uses touchscreens, printed-out paper ballots and ballot scanners.

In DeKalb, about 27,700 voters were deemed “inactive” and were placed on the list to be purged from the rolls, elections director Erica Hamilton said at a recent Board of Registrations and Elections meeting.

“Understanding the approaching purge, I want to get an early start on checking the voter status of DeKalb residents,” Cochran-Johnson said. “I hear my constituents loud and clear when they voice concerns and I’m dedicated to ensuring no vote goes uncounted.”

The town hall panel will include speakers from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office and DeKalb elections board. They will discuss topics including voting practices, absentee voting procedures, ballot processing times and provisional ballots. Attendees will also be able to check their voting status and register to vote at the event.

Voters in six pilot counties — which did not include DeKalb — cast ballots on the new voting system during local elections earlier this month. There were some minor problems, but officials said the first trial of the new machines went smoothly overall.

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