APN Chat with2014 Georganna Sinkfield, Candidate for Secretary of State
APN Chat with Georganna Sinkfield, Candidate for Secretary of State
By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (June 18, 2010)
(APN) ATLANTA — In our continuing coverage of the 2010 Statewide and Congressional Elections, we sat down with State Rep. Georganna Sinkfield, who is running for Secretary of State of Georgia.
In 2006, Gail Buckner won the the Democratic nomination and she is again running for the position. Buckner ultimately lost to Republican Karen Handel in 2006. Handel is now running for Governor.
Also running for this seat for the Democratic nomination this year are Gary Horlacher, Angela Moore, and Michael Mills.
Previous 2006 SOS Democratic Primary candidates are running for other offices this year. Darryl Hicks, who had been in a run-off with Buckner, is running for State Labor Commissioner. Scott Holcomb, who had received questionable donations in 2006 from a Choicepoint executive’s wife, is now running for State House District 82 to replace State Rep. Kevin Levitas, who is retiring.
Sinkfield has served as a State House representative for 28 years, for a seat encompassing parts of Dekalb and Clayton counties. Gloria Tinubu, a former Atlanta City Council Member and former Board Member for the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, is running for Sinkfield’s old seat.
Sinkfield has served as the Youth and Children Committee Chair in the State House, and the Chair of the Subcommittee for Appropriations on Human Services. She helped support State Sen. Vincent Fort’s predatory lending bill in the State House side when it passed earlier this decade.
Sinkfield surprised many when she announced her candidacy the last week of qualifying. However, Sinkfield told APN she had decided after 28 years in the House she was going to try to do something else either way.
Angela Moore had been pleased to learn that Darryl Hicks was running for Labor Commissioner, making her the only Black candidate in the race, a position she thought would help her into an expected Run-off Election. The entrance of Sinkfield in the race, however, means that Moore and Sinkfield will be more likely to split the Black vote.
APN asked Sinkfield 15 questions related to the Secretary of State’s office, particularly related to elections integrity. All Democratic Primary candidates in this race now have been interviewed.
So far this campaign season, APN has also interviewed Gubernatorial candidate David Poythress; SOS candidates State Sen. Gail Buckner, Gary Horlacher, Michael Mills, and Angela Moore; Congressional candidates US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Vernon Jones, and Connie Stokes; School Superintendent candidates Brian Westlake and Beth Farokhi; and Fulton County Commission District 6 candidates, Joan Garner and Keisha Waites.
CAN THE CURRENT GEORGIA E-VOTING MACHINES BE TRUSTED TO COUNT EVERY VOTE ACCURATELY ON ELECTION NIGHT?
No, I don’t think so. Nothing is 100 percent. I’ve never owned anything that’s 100 percent. We know technology, our cell phones, our computers.
That doesn’t keep me from wanting to make it 100 percent. Georgia’s machines are checked for accuracy more than any other state. Kennesaw State University checks every machine by law in every county in every election.
It requires the public to be notified to come and see the machines being checked. But Georgia does a lot of checking and the public is invited to watch.
DO YOU SUPPORT KEEPING THE CURRENT SYSTEM, ADDING A VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL (VVPAT) TO THE CURRENT SYSTEM, SWITCHING TO OPTICAL SCAN, OR SOME OTHER OPTION GOING FORWARD? WHY?
Let’s start with keeping the current system.
I found, in talking to people, what do they mean when they talk about a paper trail? What is it that you want? The answer varies.
Some say I want a receipt. If there’s a method out there, I would be willing to look at that.
I don’t know of anything wrong with the current machines. Before we had the present machines we always had problems. We didn’t have unifortmity, and now we do.
The cost in 2002, US was paying states. Today, the cost would be 100 million dollars. All that would have to be appropriated.
I don’t think we can show that they’re absolutely not working.
Optical scan, I don’t know if it’s better than what we have. Then there’s of course the issue of money.
DO YOU SUPPORT OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE CODE?
There is concern. I don’t particularly like that only the person making the machine can see the code. Also, I don’t want to open it up to everyone because of hijacking.
I would support a selected, secured group [being able to see the code]. The situation we’re in at the moment doesn’t allow us to match, I don’t know of any technology to match to work with the 100 million dollar machines we already have.
HANDEL AS A CANDIDATE SAID SHE SUPPORTED VVPAT BUT DIDN’T DO IT. WHAT SPECIFIC STEPS WOULD YOU TAKE TO IMPLEMENT A NEW SYSTEM AND HOW LONG INTO YOUR TERM WILL IT TAKE? ONE YEAR? TWO YEARS?
I’m not gonna commit to six months because I’m gonna be looking at what’s there. I’m gonna look at it.
Also I want to point out, the Secretary of State doesn’t make law and doesn’t make a budget. The Secretary of State would have to be engaged in the legislative process. I have the experience.
Some issues take education and continuing to pound and working at it. The legislature would have to be convinced.
HANDEL SAID IT WOULD BE TOO COSTLY TO CHANGE VOTING SYSTEMS. HOW MUCH IS TOO COSTLY FOR ELECTIONS INTEGRITY? IS THERE AN UPPER LIMIT?
No, there isn’t an upper limit. You have to get into the bid process. You have to know what you want to buy.
DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE BLANK VOTES IN THE COBB COUNTY SPLOST?
REGARDING THE COBB COUNTY SPLOST, THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT SAID THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF MACHINE ERROR. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THAT ANSWER- WHY OR WHY NOT?
There’s way too many unanswered questions to close the case in that manner. I have concerns. I wouldn’t rest with that. It would undermine trust in the system.
DID YOU SUPPORT HB 1215 IN THE GEORGIA LEGISLATURE TO GET OPTICAL SCAN MACHINES AND ELIMINATE DRE’S?
I don’t remember it [the bill]. [Back before Georgia got the Diebold machines] there was a group out in Nashville who we [the legislative Black Caucus] were working with, who wanted to bid on our system in Georgia. Truvote- they did have a paper trail. But they hadn’t gotten their certification. I was supporting another system.
DO YOU AGREE WITH GEORGIA’S NEW VOTER ID LAW?
I voted against it loud and clear. Against adding additional burdens. They said ID had to be issued by the State. It was going to be a mess, it was gonna cost you. I said it doesn’t sound like a democracy to me.
It [the revised bill] was better but I still was not satisfied.
DO YOU AGREE WITH THE CURRENT BALLOT ACCESS LAWS FOR THIRD PARTIES AND INDEPENDENTS?
If you’re gonna run for office, you need to have a way to show sincerity- paying a qualifying fee or getting signatures. Everybody should be allowed to qualify.
DO YOU AGREE WITH KAREN HANDEL IN THE FIGHT WITH THE US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REGARDING THE VOTER VERIFICATION SYSTEM?
No. I think it’s a way they’re circumventing the law, a way to get up under the law.
I’m totally against the Secretary of State deciding the eligibility of the voter- I mean policy. If we do what we’re supposed to do, we don’t have to worry about preclearance [from the US Department of Justice].
HAVE YOU ACCEPTED ANY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ANY VENDORS DOING BUSINESS WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE?
WHAT SPECIFICALLY HAVE YOU DONE TO SUPPORT ELECTIONS INTEGRITY AND REFORM?
I voted against the Voter ID law. I voted against anything that would take away voting rights. I see that office as protecting qualified voters, not challenging them and intimidating them.
I supported TruVote with a paper trail.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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