The kind of voting system rolling out in Georgia is gaining ground across the country but remains much less common than paper ballots filled out by hand, according to a new national map of voting equipment.
Georgia is one of three states that will use touchscreens and ballot printers for all in-person voters this year, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election accuracy advocacy organization. Delaware and South Carolina will also use this kind of voting system statewide.
Many states use similar equipment but on a smaller scale to accommodate voters with disabilities. The voting computers, called ballot-marking devices, are available in parts or all of 44 states, often alongside hand-marked paper ballots.
About 18% of voters nationwide, more than 37 million, will use ballot-marking devices as their primary voting method this year, according to figures provided by Warren Stewart, a data specialist for Verified Voting who worked on the map. That figure includes 7 million registered voters in Georgia.
That’s a sharp increase from elections in 2018, when roughly 2% of voters used ballot-marking devices, Stewart said.
The most widespread voting method in the nation is paper ballots with voters’ choices bubbled in with a pen. About 70% of voters, 149 million, use hand-marked paper ballots.
There are still 12% of voters who cast their ballots on electronic voting machines that lack a paper ballot, which is the kind of system Georgia used from 2002 to 2019.
The Verified Voting map also shows a snapshot of the United States voting equipment industry.
Election Systems & Software is the largest voting equipment provider in the country, followed by Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic. Dominion won Georgia’s $104 elections contract in July.
Verified Voting’s map, which was updated last week, now makes a distinction between jurisdictions where most voters are using hand-marked paper ballots or ballot-marking devices. Previously, the map didn’t distinguish between hand-marked and computer-printed ballots.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.