At long last, the new system will go live on February 6th with plenty of pomp and circumstance
The acronym GaRVIS stands for the Georgia Registered Voter Information System. According to reports, it will store the voter registration records for all of Georgia’s 7.9 million voters, more efficiently than the current system, which has become taxed due to rapidly expanding state voter rolls in recent years.
The new system is also expected to verify voter information at precincts and process absentee ballot information once all counties start using it on the sixth of February.
GaRVIS’s streamlined early voting check-in process will eliminate the need for voters to fill out paper forms, and is expected to reduce the average check-in time from around 3 minutes to about 50 seconds in future elections, according to State Elections Director, Blake Evans.
“What we’re doing is special, and it’s going to have a great impact on the voter experience,” Evans said. “It’s a very fast application. County election officials will see a noticeable difference in speed and performance.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had originally announced the new system over a year ago but decided to hold off implementing the majority of the system’s features until after last year’s elections. Raffensperger said that he did that in an effort to give voting officials and election workers a little extra time to fix any technical problems that might arise as well as to get more familiar with the system’s idiosyncrasies.
GaRVIS replaces the state’s current voter registration system which is 10 years old. Called ElectioNet or eNet, the current system is being phased out because it failed to handle the load of the higher-than-expected voter turnout and absentee voting during the early voting period in October 2020. Those issues led to voting lines that lasted for hours. And while the problem was corrected, helping eNet not to experience similar slowdowns during last year’s elections, it was still determined to be outdated technology.
While the new system is expected to drastically assist Georgia voters going forward, most of the changes won’t be visible to voters because GaRVIS is primarily used by county election workers. Voters will continue to use the existing My Voter Page to find polling places, examples of sample ballots, and information on elected officials.
What’s more, once the new system is online, Georgians who are already registered to vote will be able to use the My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov to change their registered addresses after they move. Under the current outdated system, voters are required to re-register from scratch to update their personal information such as their address or name changes.
County election workers that were asked about the new system during a recent training conference in Athens recently sang GaRVIS’s praises. Christina Redden, the assistant elections director in Glynn County had this to say:
“It’s about time. I felt like I was banging my head against the wall with eNet. I was so ready for it. It’s so much faster.”
Billy Wooten, the elections director of Chatham County said:
“GaRVIS should be able to handle the needs of a state with a growing number of registered voters and higher turnout in competitive elections. Georgia added 1.6 million new voters over the past four years, representing more than one-fifth of all registered voters.
“What we currently have works, but technology has changed. The voter rolls have vastly increased. There’s more demand on our election system now for more information.”
But what’s perhaps the most remarkable thing about GaRVIS is its price tag. When all is said and done, GaRVIS is expected to end up having cost the taxpayers of Georgia less than $5 million, according to Secretary of State Raffensperger’s office.
According to Evans, the changes GaRVIS brings to the early voting check-in process are expected to be in place before the next election cycle.
Slow check-ins — along with high turnout during a shortened early voting period — caused long waits for voters in some areas during last year’s U.S. Senate runoff.
In the future, three check-in steps will be combined into one. A test run of the system in about 20 counties last year showed significant decreases in voter processing times, Evans said.
Instead of filling out a paper form, verifying ID with a poll worker, and then being handed a card that activates a voting machine, all of those steps will be accomplished through check-in tablets called PollPads.
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