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DeKalb County Commission asks state Legislature to consider online voting for elections

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DeKalb County Commission asks state Legislature to consider online voting for elections

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Decatur, GA — The DeKalb County Commission has sent a resolution to the state Legislature asking lawmakers to explore the possibility of conducting elections online.

“The resolution presented by the Governing Authority of DeKalb County requests the General Assembly to establish online voting to create a more secure, convenient and accessible opportunity for citizens to exercise a fundamental principle of American democracy,” the press release says. “Through the establishment of online voting, the State of Georgia, counties and local municipalities will be able to reduce the financial burden associated with staffing various elections.”

The press release from the county notes that this isn’t a new idea.

“Several states are currently piloting online voting using blockchain technology for members of the military, their families and staff who are stationed overseas under the e-voting laws in conjunction with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act,” the press release says.

Here’s the full press release from DeKalb County:

DECATUR, GA – As voting irregularities ranging from technical issues to poorly trained staff emerge across Georgia following the June primary elections, Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson has presented a resolution requesting the Georgia General Assembly research and expand voting options to include online capabilities.

The resolution presented by the Governing Authority of DeKalb County requests the General Assembly to establish online voting to create a more secure, convenient and accessible opportunity for citizens to exercise a fundamental principle of American democracy. Through the establishment of online voting, the State of Georgia, counties and local municipalities will be able to reduce the financial burden associated with staffing various elections.

“As we face a global pandemic and unprecedented social unrest across the United States, it is time we develop a better strategy for efficient voting,” Commissioner Cochran-Johnson said. “We have a large group of people who feel disenfranchised due to long lines at polling precincts and have experienced adverse voting irregularities. With the technological advances we have available today, there is no reason why Americans should have to report to polling precincts to cast votes. It is time we expand voting to include online capabilities.”

The establishment of an online system can mirror that of the data collection process used for the U.S. Census to ensure the security and accuracy of all votes cast and require that appropriate records are kept for verification, confirmation and archival purposes.

The concept of online voting is not a remote idea. Several states are currently piloting online voting using blockchain technology for members of the military, their families and staff who are stationed overseas under the e-voting laws in conjunction with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson is asking the Georgia General Assembly to form a study committee is to adequately research and develop an online voting strategy. Additionally, Commissioner Cochran-Johnson has partnered with Dr. Jon Gant, dean and professor of the School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS) at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), on research pertinent to this legislation. Dr. Gant was faculty at the University of Illinois and founding director of the Center for Digital Inclusion prior to joining NCCU in 2016. He has worked as a policy researcher for over 20 years and his expertise includes serving in various leadership roles examining the impact of digital government, broadband adoption and the digital transformation of organizations. He also served as the chair of the UC2B Not-for-Profit Board, among other projects. Dr. Gant, along with Dr. Erezi Ogbo, adjunct professor in SLIS, will oversee a team of graduate researchers who will develop online voting standards and a White Paper.

“The need for online voting is perhaps one of the most important issues we face at this time and I’d like to lay the foundation for all states to make this move,” Commissioner Cochran-Johnson said. “Dr. Gant, Dr. Ogbo and the graduate students will be valuable allies in the research and development of a sustainable online voting model. Dr. Gant’s credentials made him the natural selection as I weighed options for partners during my national search.”

For media questions or to schedule interviews with Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson or Dr. Jon Gant, email amslocum@dekalbcountyga.gov or call 404-855-1922.

 

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