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Georgia's governor has signed a sweeping overhaul of how elections are administered in the state. Republican Brian Kemp was Georgia's top election official last year during a contested race for governor that he ultimately won. As Johnny Kauffman of member station WABE reports, the new law changes some of the controversial voting policies that Kemp defended during the midterms.
JOHNNY KAUFFMAN, BYLINE: Brian Kemp won the race for governor last year by about 55,000 votes over Democrat Stacey Abrams. But there were lawsuits, and Abrams still accuses Kemp of making it harder for people of color to vote. Kemp defends the voting policies he carried out, so quietly signing the election overhaul law this week is a shift for the Republican. Sean Young is the legal director for the ACLU of Georgia.
SEAN YOUNG: I think the state is finally moving - slowly - in the right direction.
KAUFFMAN: The law Kemp signed does a lot that Democrats and voting rights advocates were asking for. For example, it says polling places can't be changed 60 days before elections and absentee ballots can't be rejected for mismatched signatures.
YOUNG: At least some legislators are waking up to the fact that instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on pointless litigation, that they should be making fixes in the laws.
KAUFFMAN: The most controversial part of the new law is about voting machines. It requires electronic voting machines that print paper ballots be used statewide in 2020. Republican Brad Raffensperger is Georgia's current secretary of state, the top election official.
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: It gives you that 100 percent confidence that, whatever the result was, you've got it right. Half of the people will be happy; half of the people may be sad. But there's 100 percent confidence.
KAUFFMAN: But cybersecurity experts say the type of machines Georgia plans to buy are insecure. Matt Bernhard is a computer scientist at the University of Michigan.
MATT BERNHARD: Essentially, you're going to have a bunch of complicated technology that may or may not be counting votes accurately that the state will not have any way of proving that it is counting votes accurately.
KAUFFMAN: Even though the new law includes a lot of elements that Georgia Democrats like, they ultimately didn't support the bill that Kemp signed. They said the state should not use electronic voting machines. Raffensperger, the Republican, says education and voter outreach will help win over people who may not trust the new technology.
RAFFENSPERGER: We're going to be running and gunning to make this thing happen.
KAUFFMAN: Raffensperger wants to test the new voting machines during municipal elections later this year.
For NPR News, I'm Johnny Kauffman in Atlanta.
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