Frequently Asked Questions
How does the voting process work on the new system?
A: If you’ve ever used an ATM or even a microwave, you’ve used the same simple touch screen technology the new voting units employ.
When you arrive at the polls, you’ll check in just as before, signing a voters certificate, and showing ID.
Then, instead of receiving a paper or punch card ballot you’ll be handed a voter access card programmed with your ballot information.
This card unlocks the voting machine. It contains no personal data about you or your vote.
Proceed to the first available voting unit. Insert the voter card in the slot at the lower right hand side, and push it in firmly until it clicks.
The first screen you’ll see is the Instructions Page. Read these carefully, then touch Start to begin voting.
The first page of the ballot is displayed. To make your choice, simply touch the box next to the candidates or questions. An “X” will appear next to your choice. To change your choice, touch the box a second time. The “X” will disappear. Then make your new selection.
A: One of the best features of the new touch screen system is that it will not permit you to make an accidental duplicate vote, or overvote.
After you have made all of your ballot selections you will see the Summary Page. This screen lets you quickly review your ballot and see if you missed anything. Offices that have not been voted are displayed in Red. To make a change, touch the specific box or touch Review Ballot to move back through the previous screens.
Make sure you’re satisfied with all of your choices. When you have no further changes, touch “cast ballot.” Once you touch this button, your vote has been recorded.
After you cast your ballot, the machine will automatically eject your card. It is now blank. If you try to re-insert it, the card will not work. When you’re done voting, please return your card to a poll official. The card will be reauthorized for another voter.
the new voting units accurate and reliable?
A: Voters can be assured of the accuracy and reliability of the new touch screen units.
Before being certified for use in Georgia, these systems endured extensive testing of both hardware and software at a federal laboratory. The state and counties also have conducted tests on each voting unit.
These units are freestanding. Because they are not connected to the Internet or any other computer network, they cannot be penetrated by computer hackers.
In the event of a power outage at the precinct, each unit can continue operating on battery power for several hours.
Your vote is stored in three separate locations to assure that no vote can ever be lost…even if the very unlikely event of an equipment failure.
The voting terminals are manufactured by Diebold, a world leader not only in voting equipment, but also in ATMs and other products that safeguard billions of dollars in financial transactions each year.
I be assured of the secrecy of my vote?
A: Although the technology has changed, your vote is just as secret and private as ever.
The voter access card you receive at the polls contains no personal information about you or your voting history. In fact, it’s much like a hotel key card, which is reprogrammed for each hotel guest. It simply unlocks the machine and loads the ballot appropriate for your address.
The votes you cast on the touch screen terminals cannot be traced back to you in any way. Should the individual ballots from each machine need to be printed out, they are randomized so no vote can be associated with an individual voter.
Q: How are votes recorded and reported?
A: Your vote is recorded in three separate locations on the voting unit, assuring that no vote can ever be lost. The touch screen terminals record choices in flash memory, assuring that votes remain secure even in the unlikely event of a sudden equipment failure. The voting units use a form the Microsoft Windows operating system, the most widely used software in the world.
In addition to two onboard locations, votes are stored on a removable computer memory card, much like those found in laptop computers. After the polls close a paper tape is printed showing the vote totals from each machine, and from all of the units in an individual precinct. These tapes, along with the removable PC cards from each unit, are collected and transported to the county elections office. There, the vote totals are compiled and the cards and tapes are kept in a secure location.
Q: Please describe features that benefit the blind, visually impaired, or those with other disabilities...
A: For the first time ever the blind and visually impaired can cast ballots independently on the new touch screen voting units. To take advantage of this feature, a voter should inform the poll manager that they wish to make use of the audio ballot.
With the audio ballot, voters are supplied with headphones and a numeric keypad. As candidates and questions are heard over the headphones, voters respond to prompts by touching the keypad. A poll manager can fully explain these features. For those who have only some visual impairment, a magnified visual ballot is also available.
Every one of Georgia’s nearly 3,000 precincts will have a voting terminal equipped with the audio ballot. The new electronic system is a huge step forward in insuring that each and every voter can cast an independent ballot.
How do I cast a write-in vote?
A: Just as with older systems, the new electronic voting units allow voters to cast votes for write in candidates.
To vote for a write-in candidate, under the appropriate race touch the box marked Write In. A keyboard is then displayed on the screen. Simply type in the name of the candidate. When you are done, touch the box marked Record Write In. Your choice will then appear under the race.
Voters should note, however, that, under Georgia law, write in votes are only counted and compiled for those candidates who have filed an official notice of their write in candidacy.
A: Diebold Election Systems, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Diebold, Incorporated and a leading manufacturer and installer of electronic voting systems.
What is the total value of the contract?
Approximately $53,950,000. It
the largest contract of its kind in the history of the United States.
What equipment and services are included in the contract?
Under the terms of the contract Diebold will provide:
What safeguards exist for proper performance of the new
A: There will be extensive testing of each voting unit upon its arrival in Georgia. Staff from the Center for Elections at Kennesaw State University will perform quality control audits and acceptance testing of the voting units in each Georgia county. Throughout the deployment process the vendor is required to meet established milestones in order to receive payment.
Will counties be provided sufficient voting units under this
A: Yes. Equipment will be apportioned equally to counties based upon their number of active registered voters. The voter registration list changes from month to month, but based on today’s active registration of 3,727,821, the ratio of DRE units to voters is 1 to 196 – an amount that falls well within manufacturer’s recommendations and is similar to the ratio typically used by other jurisdictions that have acquired DRE equipment.
What costs will counties incur as part of this deployment?
A: Counties will receive free of charge the equipment, training, software license and onsite testing and support described above. Additional training at Kennesaw’s Center for Elections and a 24-hour help desk will also be provided to counties free of charge. Should counties choose to fund acquisition of additional voting units, they may do so for an established statewide contract price.
How many manufacturers submitted bids and who were they?
A: Nine equipment manufacturers submitted bids. They were: Millenium Year 2000 Solutions, Inc., Unilect Corporation, Compaq Computer Corporation, TruVote International, Inc., Diebold Election Systems, Inc., Election Systems & Software, Accenture, Shoup Voting Solutions and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.
On what basis was the award to Diebold made? Were they
A: The state’s Request For Proposal specified that proposals would be evaluated based upon the “best value” for the state rather than on price alone. Diebold was neither the highest or lowest bidder.
How were the bids evaluated? Who was involved in making the decision?
A: Secretary of State Cox appointed an evaluation committee to review the proposals and recommend the vendor that offered the “best value” solution. The committee spent several weeks evaluating proposals and conducting tests of equipment capabilities. The 12-member committee was comprised of seven employees from the Secretary of State’s office and one each from the Office of Planning and Budget, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Georgia Technology Authority. In addition, two retired county election superintendents, from Bibb and Fulton Counties, served on the committee. The committee’s recommendation that Diebold be selected was unanimous. The recommendation was reviewed by Georgia’s Chief Information Officer Larry Singer and endorsed by Secretary of State Cox.
Are these electronic voting units accessible to the visually
A: All of the DRE voting units may be configured with an “ADA kit” to accommodate the visually impaired, and to allow them to make ballot choices independently and without assistance via an audio interface. One DRE unit in each Georgia precinct will be configured in this way. These units may also be used by non-impaired voters as well. The sensitive nature of the touch screen and the ability to position the screen at a right angle to the voting booth, along with the use of a keypad, also enables easy access for those individuals with unique accessibility requirements.
What special features does the Diebold AccuVote –TS offer?
A: Using an intelligent voter card as the voter interface, the AccuVote-TS permits voters to view and cast their votes by touching target areas on an electronically generated ballot. The units have the ability to put all ballot styles within a voting jurisdiction on each ballot station, (over 35,000 ballots have been stored on a single ballot station in a live election). The terminal’s “magnify” feature enlarges the text for improved visibility by the voter.
How about security features? Can votes be lost?
A: Votes are securely stored utilizing world-class encryption techniques on several flash memory devices, providing multiple system redundancy features. The units also carry internal battery back up in case of a loss of power to the precinct.
With the new statewide system, how will absentee ballots
A: Voters registered in all counties will receive, vote and return an optical scan ballot. 400 optical scan ballot tabulators will be deployed to every Georgia county.