Secretary Raffensperger Asks State Senate to Fully Fund Additional Audits

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called for greater election security by asking Georgia’s State Senate to agree to funding for new technology approved by the House that would give election officials the ability to audit the text of every choice on every ballot, in every contest - without the use of QR codes.

“Early voting in the Presidential Primary is starting and election security is my top priority,” said 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, Georgia has been consistently ranked as one of the top states in the nation for both election administration and election integrity. A small but passionate minority of voters with fears stoked by misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies about voting machines and QR codes on ballots continue to express doubts about the validity of using QR codes to count votes.

Removing QR codes from ballots to alleviate unfounded fears would require six to nine months to change operating systems and software 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 are confident the Georgia State Senate will support the funding of this important election integrity tool and commit the resources to increase public trust in the processes and results of our elections,” he added.

The audit tool would be deployed after the 2024 election and done in conjunction with the risk-limiting audits already required by Georgia law. 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.

“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.”

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 support 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.”