Editorial Roundup: Georgia

Valdosta Daily Times. January 25, 2024.

Editorial: Bill would remove QR code from ballots

A proposal to get rid of the QR codes on Georgia ballots passed the Senate Ethics Committee Thursday.

We wish it success as it makes its way through the rest of the legislative process.

A QR code — a square full of square dots — is readable only by a computer. Many times it’s placed on a product or an advertisement, and you click it with a cell phone’s camera to open a webpage with more information about the product or service being advertised.

On the ballot, it allows a computer scanner to recognize who you voted for and to tabulate the results of the election.

Georgia changed voting machines in 2020. Under the previous system, there was no paper ballot. You voted on a touch-screen kiosk; it was recorded on a magnetic strip attached to a card, like a credit card or debit card; and a scanner read the information on the cards’ magnetic strips to count up the votes. The voter had nothing to review to make sure the information on the magnetic strip accurately reflected the choices he made on the touch-screen.

That lack of transparency was one of the reasons given for adopting a new system.

In the new system, you still vote on a touch-screen kiosk, but the kiosk includes a printer that produces a paper report of how you voted. You can read over it to make sure it recorded correctly. But the scanner isn’t reading the words you read — it’s reading the QR code on the ballot that, we’re told, contains the same information.

Probably it does, but how could a voter prove it before submitting his ballot to be counted?

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, and others would eliminate the QR code and require scanners that can read the words just like a person does. If you vote for Donald Trump on the touch-screen, you can read on the paper ballot where it says Donald Trump, and you can be assured the computer will read it the same way.

Lawmakers have been pushing Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to implement such a plan in time for the presidential election this year. He says it can’t be done that quickly, and he has a point. The presidential preference primary is two months away (early voting will start weeks before that), and even the general election is only 10 months from now. Experts have recommended a test run in a few counties before taking the new system state-wide, and we don’t want that kind of test going on during a presidential election that’s expected to have phenomenal turnout.

Just because the state can’t do it right away doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do, though.

The new scanners are expected to cost about $15 million, and that’s not pocket change. But if it removes a layer of doubt about the results of our elections, it’s a good investment.

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Brunswick News. January 30, 2024.

Editorial: Legalizing gambling is not the right move for Georgia

When a child wants something bad enough but fails to lasso the permission of parents, the youth will often attempt to sway them or pressure them into relenting with this age-old ploy: “So-and-so has one” or “so-and-so is allowed to go.”

State lawmakers are not above employing similar tactics when they want something that has been denied them. They have been even known to avail themselves of it from time to time by pointing to a neighboring or distant state that has what they wish to replicate and announce “it is working for them and therefore it will work for Georgia.”

There is nothing wrong with comparing gains, losses and slippages with other states. After all, most are competing for the same federal funds or job-producing enterprises. How successful a state is at drawing one or both often determines the health of its economy and its bottom line.

Problems occur when legislators net something that works in another state but fails to produce the same results in their own communities. Just because betting and other gambling laws work in places like Las Vegas and states like Florida, for example, does not necessarily mean they are right for Georgia. Their economies are vastly different.

Before copying a law of another state, ask first if it will improve the quality of life of citizens and in what way or how so. If the answer is yes, give it a test drive. If on the other hand the answer is maybe or an emphatic no, leave it alone. Back away from it until it can be further studied or evaluated.

If it poses a change in the state constitution, then voters should determine its fate. Legislators should refrain from using loopholes or legal sleight of hands to effect new laws, especially ones that pertain to gambling, a controversial issue in the Peach State. This is not Las Vegas and it is not Florida.

Georgia is on track and running smoothly. The state has billions of surplus dollars in its general fund budget and in its lottery budget. Resist doing anything that might slow the state down or derail it.

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