Georgia runoffs: Dominion Systems glitch forces voters to use paper ballots in Columbia County, Trump tweets

Georgia runoffs: Dominion Systems glitch forces voters to use paper ballots in Columbia County, Trump tweets
President Donald Trump and Georgia Senate runoff election voting (Getty Images)

A programming glitch affected some Dominion Voting Systems in Columbia County, Georgia, on Tuesday, January 5 -- the day the Peach State saw a couple of crucial Senate election runoffs. As a result, the voters had to use emergency paper ballots for some time. The runoff elections are extremely important for the results there will determine which party controls the Senate next.

WRDW-TV reported that “due to some technical problems that drew the attention of President Donald Trump, voters in Columbia County had to fill out paper ballots for a time Tuesday morning instead of using machines to mark their ballots during the state of voting in Georgia’s Senate runoffs”. It also said voting went smoothly in neighboring Richmond County, according to the county’s Elections Director Lynn Bailey. None other than Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has been accused by some in his own Republican Party of not doing enough against the alleged voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, said the problems witnessed in Columbia County were among the few seen in Georgia. 

Supporters hold signs and wait for the start of a rally with Vice President Mike Pence as he lends support for Sen. David Purdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) on December 10, 2020 in Augusta, Georgia. (Getty Images)

It was on Tuesday that Trump tweeted: “Reports are coming out of the 12th Congressional District of Georgia that Dominion Machines are not working in certain Republican Strongholds for over an hour. Ballots are being left in lock boxes, hopefully they count them. Thank you Congressman @RickAllen!”


The 12th Congressional District includes parts of Columbia County. Allen, a Republican representative from Georgia, responded to Trump saying: “Fighting to make sure every legal vote is counted, Mr. President! We will #HoldTheLine!”


Gabriel Sterling (Getty Images)

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia voting system implementation manager, conceded on social media on Tuesday morning that the error happened and announced that voting would continue on emergency handwritten ballots till the problem was settled. He said the programming error was in connection with security keys and poll worker cards for the voting devices. He also said law enforcement took new keys and cards to the locations where the technical difficulties happened. WRDW-TV added that the problems were fixed by 10 am, according to Raffensperger’s office. 


Sterling slams Trump for his tweet

Sterling was unhappy with the president tweeting about the incident after it was fixed and hit back at the latter in a post saying: “And this issue in Columbia Co. was resolved hours ago and our office informed the public about it in real time. The votes of everyone will be protected and counted. Sorry you received old intel Mr. President.”


Under the voting system which Georgia has used for less than a year, the voters get a key card to activate a voting device and then use a touch screen on the machine to make the selection. The machine prints a paper ballot that the voters carry to and insert in a scanning station to record their ballots. When the voters in Columbia County faced issues with the key cards, they filled out the ballots by hand and inserted them into a slot in a locked bin which is attached to the ballot scanner. The poll official at Stevens Creek, which was among the locations where handwritten ballots were filled out, denied the allegation that the ballots inserted in the locked bin were ignored. 

Incumbent GOP Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are being challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the runoff elections.

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