Secretary of State Brian Kemp, accompanied by his wife, Marty (right), and daughter, Amy Porter, filed his qualification papers to run for governor on March 7, 2018. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Group appointed to help replace Georgia’s voting machines

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Monday appointed an 18-member group of election officials, state legislators, political party representatives and voting experts to recommend the state’s next election system.

The group, called the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, will hold public meetings across Georgia and review options for the state’s voting system, including hand-marked paper ballots and electronic machines with a voter-verified paper trail.

Kemp announced earlier this month he was forming the study group to evaluate options to replace the state’s electronic voting machines, which don’t leave an independent paper backup that could be checked for accuracy of election results. 

He created the group after the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass legislation to move the state to a new voting system.

Highlights of Georgia Democratic poll About half of likely Democratic voters still haven’t decided who to support in next month’s primary. Of those who have decided, one-third of voters backed Stacey Abrams while about 15 percent support Stacey Evans. Voters have even less knowledge about the race for lieutenant governor. A whopping 70 percent of the Democratic electorate was undecided. President Donald Trump’s approval rating among Democrats stands at 7 percent. About 9 in 10 Democrats disapprove

Kemp and Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, will be the co-chairmen of the SAFE Commission, which will conduct a cost analysis of voting systems, research post-election audit procedures and provide recommendations before next year’s legislative session.

“It is an honor to serve alongside these individuals, who are committed to an open, transparent and inclusive process where we set our politics aside and focus on how we can keep Georgia’s elections secure, accessible and fair,” Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement.

Here are the SAFE Commission’s members:

Elected officials (5)

Secretary of State Brian Kemp

Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem

Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon

Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah

Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough

Election directors (6)

Lynn Bailey, Richmond County 

Nancy Boren, Muscogee County

Maxine Daniels (retired), DeKalb County

Deidre Holden, Paulding County

Darin McCoy, Evans County

Cynthia Welch, Rockdale County 

Political party representatives (3)

Michael Jablonski, Democratic Party of Georgia

John Monds, Libertarian Party of Georgia

Vincent Russo, Georgia Republican Party

Technology and cyber-security expert (1)

Wenke Lee, co-executive director, Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy

Voter accessibility expert (1)

Amy Howell, assistant commissioner and general counsel, Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities 

Voters at-large (2)

James “Jimmy” McDonald, managing principal, McDonald Firm, LLC

Sheila Ross, director of capital litigation, Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia

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