APN Q&A: RJ Hadley, Candidate, Secretary of State
(APN) ATLANTA — With the Primary Election for Georgia Secretary of State and other statewide races coming up on May 22, 2018, Atlanta Progressive News sent questionnaires to all candidates for the Democratic Primary.
R.J. Hadley, a Democratic Party activist and Chief Deputy Tax Commissioner for Rockdale County, is running for the Democratic nomination Secretary of State.
Other candidates include former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler and former U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-GA).
The current Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running for Governor of Georgia.
Hadley almost immediately responded. His answers are as follows:
What is your position on SB 403 – new voting machines and law?
Our current voting machines are sorely outdated and no longer supported in software or hardware. I’ve attended most of the legislative hearings on new voting machines from HB 680 to HB 848 and now SB 403.
I’m against SB 403 in its current form.
I don’t like that Secretary Kemp will control the purchasing process and the newly elected Secretary will have no say in it. Also SB 403 will allow for an unverifiable voting system which is what we have now with the current machines. The system turns our votes into a barcode before scanning.
My background is in software development/management but I can’t visually read a barcode. No one could read it and tell for sure that the barcode actually contains my vote. I want a system that scans my vote not a translation of my vote. Finally, SB 403 has stripped down the stronger risk-level auditing provisions from earlier bills. Auditing supports high voter confidence and should be in place for all elections at all levels.
What is your position on automatic voter registration?
I support all initiatives that will bring more voters into the election process. Other states have shown that strong AVR where voters have to opt-out of automatic registration directly correlates to higher voter participation rates.
Do you support same-day voter registration?
I support all initiatives that will bring more voters into the election process. Same-day registration reduces voter confusion and frustration around strict registration deadlines. States that employ same day registration enjoy higher voter participation rates.
What additional ideas do you have to increase voter registration and participation?
Part of my platform is to enhance the Secretary’s duty of Voter Education. I want to strengthen relationships and partnerships with other state agencies that will help reach underrepresented populations like the Department of Education, Department of Driver Services, and Board of Pardons and Paroles.
How do you intend to provide for voter registration opportunities for homeless people?
There needs to be stronger collaboration with the non-profits that service this population in terms of voter education. Also, there will need to be legislation in place that allow a non-profit to sponsor homeless voters for the purposes of establishing location. It’s not a one-shot solution but would have to be part of a larger discussion. Voting is an opportunity to reconnect thousands of homeless citizens across Georgia with society. Any discussion around solutions is worth having.
What is your position on voter roll purges?
Voter roll maintenance is required by federal law and serve to reduce administrative costs for local governments. However, the Office needs to constantly monitor its tactics to ensure the least number of eligible voters are disenfranchised. Claims of widespread voter fraud have not been substantiated and are used to put forward overly stringent voter purges. Knowing how many people are turned away from the polls each cycle is an important statistic that is not currently captured. I’d want to know that number to identify districts and what populations are being impacted.
What is your position on ballot access for third party and independent candidates? Do you support lowering or removing the petition requirements, including the one percent requirement for statewide office, and/or the five percent requirement for non-statewide office?
I’ve have long supported open ballots with limited access restrictions because more choices will bring more voters to the polls. Our current leadership seems mostly interested in limiting the number of voters who can exercise their right to vote. That is not democracy in my view.
Do you support allowing incarcerated felons to vote? Ex-felons who have on probation or parole? Ex-felons who have completed their sentences?
Currently, Georgia law requires all time served and monies owed be paid to regain voting rights. I would support restoration after all time/probation completed.
Requiring all monies paid amounts to a poll tax and unnecessarily delays the ex-felons from rejoining society as a productive citizen.
What is your position on decreasing or increasing the early voting period?
Reducing the early voting period along with reducing polling locations are voter suppression tactics. I’d like to see our early voting period return to 45 days. As Secretary, I will support any initiative that expands the pool of eligible voters and improves their opportunity to express their voting rights.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2018)