FILE - Election day vote

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has awarded the contract for Georgia’s new voting machines to Dominion Voting Systems as court challenges continue. Work will start immediately and the machines will be fully operational by the March 24, 2020, primary for U.S. President, according to a news release from the Secretary of State’s office.

“Elections security is my top priority,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “We look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”

Old Domino is a better choice than its competitor, EE&S, but the announcement “does nothing to change the fact that hand-marked paper ballots are more secure than elections by machines,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight, a political action committee focusing on voters rights started by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams lost the 2018 election by about 50,000 votes amid questions of ballot problems and voter suppression, which Gov. Brian Kemp, who was Secretary of State at the time, denied.

“This announcement and a change of vendors marks an admission of how poorly the 2018 elections were conducted, and serious questions about how the Secretary of State intends to secure 2019 elections remain,” Groh-Wargo said in an emailed statement. “We continue to have many questions about the RFP selection process and will continue our fight for truly free and fair elections in which every vote is counted and every voice is heard."

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg heard from voter’s rights groups and voters who have questioned the security of the election process, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They want the state to go to all paper ballots.

Totenberg did not indicate when or how she would rule but said in a previous hearing that state elections officials “had buried their heads in the sand” about problems with the voting system, the newspaper reported.

One election official praised the new voting system in a news release from the Secretary of State’s office.

“As Election Director my job is to make sure every voter has a positive experience,” Rockdale County Elections Supervisor Cynthia Willingham said. “We are grateful to the Secretary of State for the new system and will ensure every voter is able to efficiently and accurately cast their ballot.”

According to the news release, the Secretary of State’s office is working with the Department of Homeland Security and private cybersecurity companies. Some Georgia counties are working with the DHS as well, the statement said.