State Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick). Ligon represents Senate District 3 in the Georgia State Senate.

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.

After months of public testimony and hours of robust debate, the Senate has advanced HB 316 – cutting through partisan rhetoric to offer Georgia’s voters the safest, most accessible, and most transparent election system possible.

HB 316 is a significant victory for common-sense, conservative solutions that build on the successes of Georgia’s current election system and incorporate new advances in technology. As the bill’s Senate sponsor, I am especially proud of the way that Republican leaders have prioritized the will of Georgia’s voters and election officials over the demands of special interests and the accusations of failed political candidates.

HB 316 updates and improves Georgia’s current voting machines with touchscreen-marked paper ballots. In addition to other reforms which will give Georgia’s voters greater opportunity for voter registration and easier access to the ballot box, HB 316 will incorporate an all-new paper ballot component that offers a verifiable paper trail in the event of voting irregularities.

After making their choices on a touchscreen, voters will receive a printed copy of their digital selections. These paper ballots allow voters to double-check their ballot before casting it and give election officials the opportunity to conduct post-election audits. The clear layout of touchscreens –which our voters are already accustomed to – also ensures fewer mistakes and means that fewer votes will be left up to the interpretation of lawyers and election officials. Georgia will not return to the antiquated system of hanging chads on punch cards or half-marked ballots that leave the intent of voters in doubt.

The paper ballot trail, combined with top industry standards in physical and digital security, means that our voters can rest assured knowing that their vote was counted as intended and without interference. And thanks to large buttons, adjustable text size, and options for the vision-impaired, touchscreens are also the best way to make sure our older and disabled voters are able to participate in Georgia’s elections.

HB 316 is the legislation that common-sense demands, and it is also the legislation that is overwhelmingly supported by 94% of Election Board Supervisors as well as 79% of the general public – and for good reason. Touchscreen-marked paper ballots will save local taxpayers from paying the unfunded mandates associated with other ballot options.

Georgia’s voters do not need a complete election overhaul to satisfy the demands of failed candidates and liberal interest groups. We deserve a system which continues to boost voter turnout and registration numbers at the historic rates we’ve seen over the last several elections. We deserve a system that promotes participation while prioritizing security, accuracy, and fast results so that we can have complete confidence in our elections.

Touchscreen-marked paper ballots are the best option for our state, and I am honored to take up the mantle of progress with HB 316 – which is the fiscally responsible solution that will ensure every voter has the opportunity to steer the direction of our democratic republic with total confidence.

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