Ahead of an event Tuesday at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke Saturday to the Glynn County Republican Party about the state’s new voting machines and the massive effort to get the new technology in place for the May primaries.

Raffensperger’s a bit more soft-spoken than your average politician, and his wife Tricia underscored his unusual style by explaining to those gathered that it was her first time speaking in front of a group at a political event. She said he always backed her in her pursuits, so when the time came that he felt he should run for office, she said she was ready to fully support him.

“When Brad came to me and said he wanted to run for office — and this was before anything — he wanted to run for city council,” Tricia Raffensperger said. “I looked at him like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re supposed to be going toward that retirement thing.’ But he wanted to make a difference, because he had always felt like he had talked the talk, but he had never walked the walk. And so this was his time, and I got behind him.”

She added that since that time, not much has changed, because he was a hard worker in private business and he’s been working hard in public office.

Raffensperger, stepping to the lectern, emphasized election security as part of the entire voting overhaul process.

“When we awarded to Dominion Voting Systems, the first thing I said to folks was, my No. 1 priority is election security,” Raffensperger said. “So, last week we had our first roundtable on cybersecurity. On Thursday, I met with Dr. (Alexander) Schwarzmann, who heads up — Professor Schwarzmann is a national expert in electronic voting systems. And guess where he’s a professor at? He’s at Augusta University, here in Georgia — we stole him from Connecticut.

“He worked with Connecticut for years and he’s worked with the United States Election Assistance Commission. He has not just national renown, he has international renown, and he’ll be bringing about 30 professors to the cyber center in Augusta over the next three years. It’s going to be a tremendous national asset for Georgia.”

Raffensperger noted the task of getting nearly 31,000 voting machines and accompanying equipment in place for the primaries, including new electronic poll books from a vendor Dominion partners with called KnowInk, which uses what are essentially iPads. He chuckled in explaining the task to hack into Georgia’s voting system may be a little bit tougher, what with the voting machines running on Microsoft-based technology and the poll books on Apple-based tech.

The voter registration deadline for the presidential preference primary is Feb. 24, with the election set for March 24. General primaries and the nonpartisan general election is scheduled for May 19.

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