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Newton County has had smooth transition to new voter registration system

COVINGTON — Newton County elections officials feel confident that few issues will arise as a result of moving to a new voter registration system earlier this year.

Newton County Board of Elections Director Donna Morrison said there have been a few problems with the new system that the state is working to correct.

“Any time you go to a new statewide computer system, there are going to be things that may have to be worked out,” she said.

The Newton County Board of Elections has been using the system since April.

It’s not a seamless process to update with new streets and house numbers, especially when the information is included in both the county and city databases, Morrison said.

When data from the former system was loaded into the new system by the vendor, a few addresses had to be manually entered because part of the address did not transfer, she said.

Morrison said she does not anticipate problems during the Nov. 5 Municipal Election. The Board of Elections handles the election for the city of Covington, while the four other municipalities handle their own elections.

“We don’t have any real problems as far as having our work put off because we can’t get it done. We’re fully operational. We’re working on the system and doing well so far,” Morrison said.

Some metro Atlanta counties, however, are reporting issues with the new system. According to a Sept. 17 article in the AJC, the Secretary of State’s Office spent $2.6 million to replace the program that has been in use since 1995. Some metro counties — including Macon-Bibb, which held an election Tuesday to pick leaders of its newly consolidated government — have reported issues in early voting with voters casting ballots in the wrong districts and long lines as poll workers checked addresses against district maps.

Neighboring Rockdale County participated in a pilot program for the new ElectionNet program and made the transition in December.

“We opted to go on the system immediately after the General Election in December 2012, so any problems we had have already been worked out,” said Cynthia Welch, elections supervisor for Rockdale County.

She said the county took an audit of all the county’s streets and districts and verified that all the information had been carried over to the new system accurately.

“Our staff and I got to learn the system inside out. The key was making sure we trained our employees in the beginning”

Voters have until Oct. 7 to register to vote in the Nov. 5 election.

Citizen staff reporter Crystal Tatum contributed to this article.