DeKalb Commissioner Cochran-Johnson urges state lawmakers to support resolution for online voting

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Pictured: DeKalb County Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson and Jon Gant, founding director of NCCU’s Center for Digital Inclusion  



DECATUR –DeKalb County Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson is sponsoring a resolution seeking support from the Georgia General Assembly to expand voting options across the state to include online voting.

The resolution by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners follows voting irregularities ranging from technical issues to poorly trained staff that emerged statewide following the June primary elections.

Online voting would create a more secure, convenient and accessible opportunity for voters and reduce the financial burden associated with staffing voting precincts, said Cochran-Johnson.

“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,”  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 could 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, Cochran-Johnson said

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.

Cochran-Johnson is asking the Georgia General Assembly to form a study committee to adequately research and develop an online voting strategy. Additionally, she has partnered with 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. Gant was a faculty member at the University of Illinois and founding director of the Center for Digital Inclusion prior to joining NCCU in 2016.

Gant has worked as a policy researcher for more than 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. Gant also served as chair of the UC2B Not-for-Profit Board, among other projects. 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,” 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.”

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