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Proposal for paper ballots over touch screens spark fireworks at Georgia State Capitol

Posted January 27, 2018 12:49 p.m. EST

— A bill to require a paper ballot system when voting has been introduced in Georgia, and now debate over it is sparking fireworks in another race.

"I know it's an election year. I know there's a lot of rhetoric being tossed around. There are a group of us, on a bipartisan basis, that are trying to work beyond the politics and focus on policy," said State Rep. Scot Turner.

But after Lt. Governor Casey Cagle threw his support behind Turner's bill to replace Georgia's current touch screen system with a paper ballot system, the fireworks started flying.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp accused Cagle of joining "liberal conspiracy theorists," according to radio station WABE.

"That's unfortunate," said Scott Binkley, Cagle's campaign manager. "70 percent of voters in this country vote with a paper trail. The only conspiracy to me is why we haven't done this in our state yet."

The comments on both sides come in the middle of a race for governor between Kemp and Cagle. Both are considered front-runners in the race.

Kemp's camp responded, saying, "What should concern Georgia voters is the radical left and their efforts to end voter ID, citizenship check and list maintenance."

Turner says pushing for paper ballots was never meant to be political.

"We're doing this because it's time, and we need to do it responsibly," said Turner.

His bill has bipartisan support, and while Kemp agrees that "voting equipment has a shelf life," he's advocating for his combo touch screen-paper ballot proposal.

Kemp's communications director went on to tell CBS46, "career politicians like Casey Cagle also have a shelf life."

"We take issue with a lack of desire to ensure safe and fair elections," says Binkley. "That's what this is all about. Accountability."

In the meantime, as the pros and cons are debated by your state lawmakers, Georgia's more than 15-year-old system will be used in this November's battle for governor between several candidates, including Kemp and Cagle.

We're told Cagle's comments never were directed at Kemp, both of whom are Republicans, along with Turner.