A month and some change away from Georgia’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries on March 24, Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said ballots for 2020’s big race have been received, with as many as 50 already issued throughout the community.
“The bulk of our system has been delivered now,” Kirk said at Monday afternoon’s local elections board meeting. “There are still a few odds and ends we need to get — say, some more voter cards, stuff like that — but nothing that’s that big of a deal.”
He said he expects testing of the new, touchscreen-based voting equipment to begin Feb. 17 at a storage facility off Branton Road. The testing, Kirk added, will be open to the public.
“We’re going to start it that day, we’re probably going to schedule it for a half day, starting out, because now that it’s offsite we’re having employees stationed over there, and they’ve got stuff they’ve got to do here as well,” he said.
The first comprehensive training classes for the equipment started Monday, with multiple classes a week ongoing as the elections draw nearer.
A major public demonstration of the voting hardware is scheduled for Feb. 18 at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center at 135 West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.
“We’re partnering with the Secretary of State on this to do this as a ‘Secure the Vote’ event,” Kirk said of the all-day demonstration. “We’ll have some representatives from the State to help us with that.”
Joe Appio, a voter education coordinator from the Secretary of State’s Office, will be on hand at the event, slated from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to answer any questions from the public about the new voting system or the State’s “Secure the Vote” initiative.
“Every day, more counties are getting their equipment for paper-ballot voting, and now is the time for people to learn about how user-friendly and secure it is,” Raffensperger is quoted in a recent press release.
Kirk said a similar hardware demonstration is being planned for Cartersville City Hall, 10 North Public Square, on Feb. 28.
“It’s better for the electorate to get the opportunity to see these prior to Election Day just so there’s some familiarity with the machines,” said Bartow County Board of Elections and Registration Member Dexter Benning. “I’ve been reaching out to different churches in the community, as well as civic organizations, and asking them if they would like for us to come out and demonstrate the machines. Thus far, I think we’ve done four churches — I’m trying to schedule the American Legion, as well, and anybody else that would have us do it.”
Kirk said he is in the process of launching a student poll worker program as part of a partnership with the Bartow County College and Career Academy. He said the program may possibly expand to also include student poll workers from other high schools.
“The reason I tried to go through the College and Career Academy is we’re pulling students from all over the county with one school," he said. "So it would be great to include Cartersville, but I didn’t want someone who goes to school up in Adairsville trying to drive to Allatoona, we’re trying to get them close to where they live."