VALDOSTA — Lowndes County has been chosen as one of six Georgia counties to try out a new voting system.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the new voting machines will use touch-screen technology and print out a paper ballot at the end of the procedure.
The new machines mark the first voting system upgrade since 2002 and will be used in the November election.
Voters can review a hard copy to verify the ballot reflects how they voted, he said.
"Now, for the first time in 20 years when we have those close elections, we'll be able to do a physical recount," Raffensperger said. "We'll be able to mathematically prove that the winner really won and the loser really lost."
The goal of the new machines is to give voters the confidence their votes counted and election results are correct.
The state approved buying 30,000 new machines in July for a cost of $107 million. For now, only six counties will be testing the machines. The rest of the state will switch to the new system by the 2020 presidential election.
He said switching to these machines reached a broad consensus among state officials on both sides of the aisle, but some representatives are adamant that paper ballots are the safest voting method.
Raffensperger said they decided against paper ballots because not everyone can use a paper ballot. The touch-screen will make it easy for every voter to fill out a ballot, he said.
Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections, said she is excited for the new machines and is honored Lowndes County has been chosen as a pilot community.
"The system is phenomenal, and I think the voters are going to love it," Cox said. "It's amazing, high-tech and easy to use because it's not connected to the internet in any way shape or form."
She said the new machines will be a little bit different than what local voters are used to, but election staff will be on hand to help them with anything they may need.
Once the kinks are worked out, Cox said she is confident everyone is going to love the new machines.
"It's the most secure system I've ever seen anywhere in the United States," Cox said. "There is no way anyone can get into this system. It's as secure as anything I've ever seen."
Cox stressed the election office is always in need of more poll workers. If anyone is interested, they are encouraged to call (229) 671-2850 or visit 2808 N. Oak St.
Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256