Raffensperger Calls on the General Assembly to Fund Independent, State of the Art Audit Technology

January 18th, 2024

Atlanta - Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger leads on election integrity by asking the General Assembly to fund new technology that would give election officials the ability to audit the ballot text of every race, in every contest without the use of QR codes. The Secretary is requesting funding in order to make this available statewide.

“Election security is my top priority,” said Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Voters deserve comprehensive audits of all races, and the reassurance that the ballots are being counted correctly.”

Since the introduction of the paper ballot voting system using a ballot marking device (BMD) for in person voting, Georgia has been consistently ranked as one of the top states in the nation for both election administration and election integrity.

As the office works with counties to prepare for 2024, there is a small, but passionate minority of voters with fears stoked by misinformation and disinformation about voting machines and QR codes on ballots.

Some have suggested removing QR codes from ballots to alleviate that fear, but that would require six to nine months of work to change operating systems and software out on tens of thousands of pieces of equipment. It would be physically impossible to achieve such a drastic change in an election year, especially a Presidential election year. It would also cost taxpayers approximately $25 million to make the changes necessary in both software and hardware systems.

“We want all Georgians to have full confidence in their elections,” continued Raffensperger. “That is why my office has been working with multiple companies to develop an auditing tool that would read and tally, not the QR code, but the text of the ballot summary. To deploy this tool, that would be able to verify every contest on the ballot, we need the General Assembly to fund the final development and deployment.”

The audit tool would be deployed after the election and done in conjunction with the risk-limiting audits already required in the Georgia Code. The Election Integrity Act (SB202) requires that all counties upload the ballot images scanned for each vote. Those ballot images can be used to audit the printed ballot summary, not the QR code (from the BMD ballot) or darkened ovals (from all other ballots), using optical recognition technology.

Several other states use similar processes and technology, but Georgia would be the first state in the nation to do a post-election audit using optical recognition. It also allows the review to be done on every ballot and every contest from President to County Surveyor.

“As Secretary of State, I have always worked for secure, accessible elections using the best technology and processes available,” continued Raffensperger. “With the help of the General Assembly, we can stay ahead in the technology race, lead the nation in auditing of elections, and increase confidence in our already successful election system.”

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Georgia is recognized as a national leader in elections. It was the first state in the country to implement the trifecta of automatic voter registration, at least 17 days of early voting (which has been called the “gold standard”), and no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia continues to set records for voter turnout and election participation, seeing the largest increase in average turnout of any other state in the 2018 midterm election and record turnout in 2020, and 2022. 2022 achieved the largest single day of in-person early voting turnout in Georgia midterm history utilizing Georgia’s secure, paper ballot voting system. Most recently, Georgia ranked #1 for Election Integrity by the Heritage Foundation, a top ranking for Voter Accessibility by the Center for Election Innovation & Research and tied for number one in Election Administration by the Bipartisan Policy Center.