Theresa Carrington (right) helps Karla Pied (left) cast her ballot during the mock election for Fulton County on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, at the Roswell Library in Roswell, Georgia. Fulton County held a mock election to test out its new voting machines and system. (Christina Matacotta for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Photo: Christina Matacotta
Photo: Christina Matacotta

Election security money spent on Georgia voting tables, wiring, TV ad

More than $10 million in federal election security money is being spent on Georgia’s new voting system, funding items like voting tables, security systems and a TV ad.

The money will pay for additional costs of the state’s $104 million voting system, made up of touchscreens, printers and ballot scanners.

Several counties are using the money to upgrade electrical capacity to accommodate new voting equipment. Others bought curtains and privacy screens. Some purchased boxes to transport ballots.

The money also supports the secretary of state’s public relations campaign called Secure the Vote. It includes instructional videos, live demonstrations, regional spokespeople, brochures and a website.

“We want to make sure that people know how to use the equipment,” said Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs. “Our office has made a point to reach out to Republicans and Democrats at senior centers and civic centers. We’re meeting voters wherever they might be gathering.”

The $10.3 million is Georgia’s share of $380 million in federal grants from a 2018 government spending bill, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Georgia Open Records Act. The state government must contribute $515,000 in matching funds.

Local election offices can apply to receive grants worth $15,000 from the secretary of state’s office. Sixteen counties have sought reimbursement so far, and funding is available to all 159 counties, who must contribute 25% of the amount reimbursed.

In Grady County along the Florida border, Elections Supervisor Denise Maddox bought 18 tables for voting touchscreens, three voting booths that will be used during early voting and ballot carrying boxes.

“I absolutely need it. Grady is a smaller county. We don’t have a lot of extra funds,” said Maddox, who spent $3,176 on the items. “These are things I didn’t foresee, so this is really going to help us a lot.”

Tonya Moore, elections director in Catoosa County near Chattanooga, Tenn., said she bought security alarm systems for nine precincts, an access control system for the main elections office, ballot carrying bags and magnifying glasses to help voters to read their ballots.

County governments can apply to the secretary of state’s office for grants until April 30.

The voting system will launch statewide Monday, when early voting begins for the March 24 presidential primary.

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