ATLANTA — Today, a coalition of progressive and conservative organizations released a joint report outlining the hidden costs of Georgia’s new election system that are likely to be the responsibility of the state’s 159 counties. The first-of-its-kind analysis shows that over ten years the counties will be responsible for a combined $82 million – on top of regular election-related costs – as a result of the state’s new election system. While the Secretary of State has given the counties the impression that everything is paid for, hidden costs abound for additional machines, warranties, licensing and the like. The organizations co-authoring the report include Fair Fight Action, FreedomWorks, and the National Election Defense Coalition.
“The Secretary of State is sweeping these costs under the rug, but the counties will still be on the hook for them,” said Susan Greenhalgh, VP of Policy and Programs of National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC). “The counties need to be armed with the true costs of running elections on this system so they can make informed decisions on the best way to serve their voters.”
In particular, the report shows that the state is failing to provide enough voting machines to counties in order to meet their statutorily required mandate under House Bill 316. House Bill 316, which was championed by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, explicitly states: “In each precinct in which optical scanning voting systems are used, the county or municipal governing authority, as appropriate, shall provide at least one voting booth or enclosure for each 250 electors therein, or fraction thereof.” (emphasis added)
Based on the Secretary of State’s allotment of new voting machines, Fulton County, for instance, will be 378 machines short for the 2020 elections. Moreover, the Secretary of State’s allotment fails to account for a seemingly obvious factor: Population growth. Suburban counties will be particularly hard-hit by this phantom math, including Cherokee (required to buy 290 additional machines by 2030), and Forsyth (345 additional machines). The full analysis can be viewed at GeorgiaVotingMachines.com.
“By imposing this unfunded mandate, the Secretary of State has put all 159 counties in a position of either enacting massive local tax hikes or facing widespread lawsuits at taxpayer expense,” said Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for FreedomWorks. “The Secretary of State has given the impression that everything is paid for, but his own numbers indicate that the counties have been given the worst of both worlds: all of the responsibility and not enough resources.”
Urban, suburban, and rural counties, alike will face massive unfunded mandates, with both Republican and Democratic counties sharing the burden. Each additional voting machine will cost the counties $3,500.
Habersham County, for instance, would be responsible for $376,861.19 in unfunded mandate costs, according to the analysis. Richmond County will be responsible for $1,302,435.99. Gwinnett County will be responsible for $5,857,831.92.
In the 2019 municipal elections on November 5, six Georgia counties tested the new machines. Each of the six counties experienced problems. “Another poorly executed election would be a major black eye on the State of Georgia and unless things change fast, that’s where we’re headed,” said Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo. “County officials deserve answers on where the training and resources will come from. This report begins to provide some of those answers, but the Secretary of State must do his job and respond to the questions of every election official and ever county.”
Read the summary here: https://docs.google.com/
Read the analysis at GeorgiaVotingMachines.com.