EDITORIAL: Some voting reforms on the way, some not

January 26, 2014 

One of the items on the lawmakers’ to-do list is making some adjustments to our voting process. Some proposed by Democrats will not see the light of morning.

Rep. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, has dropped a bill into the hopper. It would allow Election Day registration. Not gonna happen. State Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, is one of the sponsors of Senate bills 45 and 50. Both bills would impact the early voting period before primary and general elections. Not gonna happen. None of the bills thus far have addressed the recommendations of the Secretary of State’s Elections Advisory Council. Among those, the EAC wants lawmakers to approve the design and implementation of a secure electronic voter registration system and permit county election offices to use “electronic record retention technology for voter registration and related materials.”

Those recommendations mirror some of the same conclusions released Wednesday by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration:

• Expand online voter registration.

• Have all states update and exchange their voter registration lists to prevent fraud.

• Expand voting periods before Election Day.

But the federal recommendations go further. While it’s hard to believe, Georgia has been using electronic voting machines statewide since 2002, the first state in the nation to do so, but the PCEA calls for “recognizing and addressing the impending crisis in voting technology.”

Georgia got religion about voting reform after the Florida debacle in the 2000 presidential election. Then-Secretary of State Cathy Cox convinced lawmakers to spend millions of dollars to put the electronic system in place. However, our 12-year-old system, in technology terms, is a dinosaur. Unfortunately, there are no federal dollars this time around to help fund the upgrades. This is imperative. The skill and scope of today’s hackers far exceed those of the 2002 variety. If they can hack Target and other large chain stores, imagine the havoc they might cause if our systems aren’t made more secure.

As we found in Bibb County, the Board of Elections and the Secretary of State’s Office also need to do a better job of mapping districts. Mapping technology also is more sophisticated. While the next large-scale redistricting is years away, work needs to begin today so we don’t have voters popping up in districts where they do not belong.

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