There is not enough lipstick to put on this pig.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is doing his best to reframe the conversation and gloss over the shortcomings of the state’s new voting machines experienced during last week’s rollout.
His spin is exactly the wrong thing to do.
The right thing for the people of Georgia, the honest thing, would be to own up to the snafus in four of the six counties that used the machines during Rafensperger’s pilot launch.
Instead, he released a flowery, carefully worded statement that made it sound like the test run was flawless.
Voters in nearby Lowndes County know better.
Here is the spin spewed by Raffensperger’s office Tuesday:
“Voting on Georgia’s new, secure paper-ballot system was successful in the pilot conducted in six counties Nov. 5, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“More than 27,000 votes were cast, including 9,304 cast during early voting. Tabulation of the paper ballots was handled as voters inserted their ballots into scanners which deposited them in locked ballot boxes.
“Even the backup measures worked as designed and assured that voters made their choices securely and confidently that the count is accurate.
“‘Congratulations to the candidates who prevailed and the communities that made important decisions about a range of issues Nov. 5,’ Raffensperger said. ‘Among the winners, surely, is the new voting system and the voters who will use it for years to come.’
“Georgia is in the midst of rolling out equipment for more than 30,000 voting stations with touchscreen devices to make their choice, printers, ballot scanners and locked ballot boxes. The first statewide use will be in time for the early voting in the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary.
“The Nov. 5 municipal elections were the initial test in Georgia in the pilot counties of Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Decatur, Lowndes and Paulding.
“Voters in Cobb County voted with hand-marked ballots which were tabulated on scanners including in the new system which demonstrated that the new system can function in case weather or a natural disaster prevented the use of electrical equipment.
“In Cobb, 11,786 ballots were cast, including 2,221 in early voting. Tabulation of those votes was accomplished without major problems.
“The Secretary of State’s Office, in conjunction with Verified Voting and VotingWorks, will perform an audit Nov. 12 in Bartow County. Examination of a random sample of paper ballots and hand counting ballots are methods experts recommend for verifying the outcome of an election. Verified Voting and VotingWorks have extensive experience conducting election audits in multiple states.”
Notice his carefully worded statement says, “even the backup measures worked as designed.” When you are forced to use a redundant system — a backup measure — that means the primary system failed.
We are not saying the system overall is a failure or that the state should scrap it. Honestly, we don’t have enough information to know that for sure and the sampling size, only six Georgia counties, was not large enough to know how this system will work during the presidential primary in March.
Raffensperger needs to own this and he needs to own up to exactly where the breakdowns occurred. What happened at the polling places when voters could not be checked-in using the electronic system? What if the same thing happens in every precinct across the state of Georgia, when there are long lines of people waiting to vote in the presidential primary? Why did the Lowndes County Elections Office have to keep the polls open an hour later than scheduled?
What happened when card readers would not tally the results in Lowndes County? Why did the elections office have to resort to using the backup bar codes on the paper ballots? What if the same thing were to happen in every precinct in Georgia during the presidential primary?
There may be very easy, simple answers to address the problems that occurred, but Raffensperger won’t even admit that it happened. His typical politician’s approach to trying to “spin” the news is disappointing and beneath the office.
Elections are far too important to sweep under a rug.
Secretary Raffensperger, we don’t want more lipstick, we want explanations and solutions.