Paulding’s top elections official will be part of a new statewide panel studying possible options for Georgia’s next voting system, including use of paper ballots.
Deidre Holden, supervisor of Elections and Voter Registration for Paulding County, was appointed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp to the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission.
The SAFE Commission will discuss all options — including the feasibility of using all hand-marked paper ballots or all electronic machines with a voter-verified paper trail — and travel the state to solicit feedback from voters, a news release stated.
Holden said she looked forward to serving on the commission.
“The integrity of our elections is the most important issue to me,” she said.
“Our voters should be confident in their vote when it is cast. The current system we have has served us well and is very trustworthy.
“However, it is time for a change. Technology has changed tremendously since 2003. We owe it to the voters of this great state to provide them with the best possible system available.”
Holden has served as Paulding election supervisor for 11 years and worked in the elections office for a total of 14 years.
Legislation to replace touch-screen voting machines with paper ballots was introduced this year in the Georgia General Assembly amid criticism of the current computer-based system as outdated and possibly susceptible to hacking.
Members will be asked to conduct cost analysis of market options, research post-election audit procedures, and provide legislative recommendations to lawmakers before the next session of Georgia’s General Assembly, a release stated.
Kemp said, "This distinguished group of public servants is diverse, knowledgeable, and ready to engage with stakeholders to research the options for our state's next voting system.
"It is an honor to serve alongside these individuals, who are committed to an open, transparent, and inclusive process where we set our politics aside and focus on how we can keep Georgia’s elections secure, accessible, and fair.”
Details on the calendar of meetings and locations will be released at a later date, the release stated. The SAFE Commission’s members include:
• Co-chairs Secretary of State Brian Kemp and State Rep. Barry A. Fleming, R-Harlem;
• State legislators State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon; State Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah; and State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough;
• Elections officials Holden and Lynn Bailey, executive director, Richmond County Board of Elections; Nancy Boren, director of Elections & Voter Registration, Muscogee County; H. Maxine Daniels, retired director of Voter Registration & Elections, DeKalb County; Darin McCoy, probate judge and election superintendent, Evans County; Cynthia Welch, supervisor, Rockdale County Board of Elections and Voter Registration Office.
• Information Technology and Cyber Security expert Wenke Lee, co-executive director, Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP);
• Political party representatives Michael Jablonski, general counsel, Democratic Party of Georgia; John Monds, Libertarian Party of Georgia, Executive Committee; Vincent Russo, deputy general counsel, Georgia Republican Party;
• Voter accessibility expert Amy Howell, assistant commissioner and general counsel, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD);
• Voters at-large, including James “Jimmy” McDonald, managing principal of McDonald Firm LLC; and Sheila Ross, director of capital litigation for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.