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Floyd County’s chief of elections says hacking is serious issue

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Floyd County Elections Supervisor Willie Green III

Floyd County Elections Supervisor Willie Green III responds to a question about election security during a presentation to the Rome Exchange Club Friday. He said hacking has become a serious issue nationwide. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

Hacking is becoming a serious threat for elections administrators across the nation. Floyd County Elections Supervisor Willie Green III told Rome Exchange Club members Friday that during the 2016 election Riverside County, California, officials reported that hackers got into their system and changed the party affiliation of some voters.

“Hacking is becoming a serious issue in the field of elections administration,” Green said.

Green said President Trump was putting together an advisory committee on voter integrity. “The committee is primarily concerned about one-person, one-vote and voter registration,” Green said.

Green said one of the things he is hoping to do in his 2018 budget is to get new voting machines and move away from the 15-year-old machines that have been used since Georgia switched to all electronic ballots.

Responding to questions about security from club members, Green said, “All systems have weaknesses in general, with internet (voting) there is more opportunity for the interception of data.”

Green said there was a movement in various locations across the country to return to paper balloting and several states are moving toward all mail balloting. Several members of the Exchange Club expressed concern about the integrity of mail balloting. “At the end of the day the system works on the honor system,” Green said.

“I don’t buy that,” said former city commissioner Buzz Wachsteter.

He also said the Georgia Secretary of State’s office is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to make sure the system is updated to remove deceased voters from the voters list.

Green did point out the elections office budget in Floyd County was significantly less than some counties he has been familiar with. For 2016, Green said the Floyd County budget was $255,370 to serve a population base of 96,504 people. Glynn County, the Brunswick area, had a budget of $437,926 and a population of 83,579. Nassau County, Florida, northwest of Jacksonville, had a budget of $1,442,796 and a population of 78,444. “Floyd County is very efficient and very effective at what we do,” Green said. Green also said his office was looking at ways to speed up the process of reporting returns. “Definitely it’s questionable to see a county of maybe 600,000 voters able to report earlier than a county of 50-some thousand voters,” Green said.

He said a survey his office administered after the 2016 elections received 1,300 responses. “In general overall we had a 97.3 percent (positive) rating,” Green said.