>> Related: Judge asked to stop Georgia's new touchscreen-and-paper voting system
But state election officials said paper ballots will be checked during audits to ensure that printed results match computer counts. Audits must begin across Georgia as soon as possible but no later than the November 2020 presidential election, according to state law.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Georgia's voting system will be ready in time for the presidential primary, and audits will guarantee that results are counted correctly. The system will be tested in up to six counties during local elections this November.
“Our goal from day one was to make sure we have the best election system in the country,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “To achieve that, we are learning from the successes of other jurisdictions, such as Michigan and Virginia, and finding rules and processes to fit Georgia’s needs.”
Georgia’s new voting system combines touchscreen machines and ballot printers. Voters will choose their candidates on 21.5-inch touchscreen tablets that are connected to printers that produce a ballot. Then voters will be able to review their ballots before inserting them into scanning machines for tabulation.
Georgia’s existing 17-year-old voting system lacks a paper ballot record, leaving no way to verify results from electronic voting machines.
Aileen Nakamura, a voter from Sandy Springs, said the State Election Board needs to step in before the new voting system goes into service.
“There are no rules to guide the conduct of those elections, and responsibility for that falls on you,” Nakamura told the board. “What is your plan?”
Elections will only be successful if voters believe every vote is counted as they intended, said Cam Ashling, chairwoman for Georgia Advancing Progress, a political action committee representing Asian American voters.
Several voters said they lack confidence in Georgia's new voting machines because they'll create ballots that encode votes in bar codes for counting by scanning machines. The printed text of voters' choices would only be used during recounts and audits.
“You will hear one common thread that creates a significant problem for you here in Georgia,” Ashling told the board. “The ballot summaries produced by ballot marking devices are inherently unauditable.”
State election officials and board members recently formed a group to draft rules over the next few months, which will be published for public comment. The State Election Board will then vote on the rules.