A federal judge is deciding if she’ll order the use of paper ballots in the municipal elections this fall — and Cave Spring is ready.
“That’s all we’ve ever used,” said City Clerk Judy Dickinson, who’s also the elections supervisor. “We’re fine. We’re fine.”
Rome is also holding elections, although the city contracts with Floyd County to conduct them. Voters there use the electronic machines U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg has called archaic.
However, Elections Clerk Vanessa Waddell said the county purchased a Balotar system in 2016, which prints ballots for absentee voting. The on-demand printer and ballot-scanning equipment could be used for the whole election if necessary.
“That’s what they’re for. That’s what they do,” Waddell said.
Dickinson said Cave Spring’s election night is a community event. She orders ballots from a printer and the returns are counted aloud in public.
“We have a few people who are the official counters but everybody in the audience gets a piece of paper and counts with them,” she said.
She’s asked, but Dickinson said there appears to be no interest in switching to electronic machines.
Cave Spring has about 600 registered voters and the turnout was 50% during the last mayoral election in 2015.
Cave Spring voters will fill the Post 1 and Post 2 City Council seats and choose a mayor this year.
Rome’s Ward 1 and Ward 3 City Commission seats — six of the board’s nine — are on the ballot. Residents also will vote on the “brunch bill,” which would let restaurants serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Totenberg has not said when she will rule on the lawsuit alleging that the touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking.
Election integrity advocates have asked for an immediate switch to paper ballots. Totenberg refused to order the change during the statewide elections in 2018, but warned that the machines are unacceptable going forward.
A law passed this year and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new system in which voters make their selections on electronic machines that print out a paper record that is read and tallied by scanners. State officials have said it will be in place for the 2020 presidential election.
Lawyers for state election officials — and for Fulton County — argued that it would be too costly, burdensome and chaotic to use an interim system for elections this fall and then switch to the new permanent system next year.