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Libertarian Runner-Up Backs Pro-Election Reform Democrat in Georgia Sec. of State Runoff

by Kaia Los Huertos, published

ATHENS, Ga. - Libertarian candidate J. Smythe DuVal, who ran for secretary of state in the 2018 midterms, announced Monday his endorsement for one of his general election rivals,  Democrat John Barrow, in the December runoff election.

DuVal came in third in the race, but since neither Barrow nor Republican Brad Raffensperger were able to get over 50% of the vote, a runoff election is required under state law.

DuVal says he and Barrow share a vision for Georgia elections that means completely transforming the way voters cast their ballots, and increasing confidence in the electoral process.

“John Barrow and I share a vision. We both want to fix Georgia’s broken election system, and we both want to make Georgia’s elections competitive, fair, and secure. John supports a replacement voting system that offers better security and costs significantly less than the other candidate’s proposal," said DuVal.

"John also supports Ranked Choice Voting, a system of voting that would eliminate separate run-off elections, thus saving millions of tax dollars every election year. John Barrow is the best choice to represent the interests of ALL Georgia citizens including Independents, Libertarians, and fiscal conservatives. It is my honor to wholeheartedly endorse John Barrow for the Georgia Secretary of State."

It is interesting to note that if ranked choice voting had been in place in the 2018 midterm, an instant and automatic runoff would have kicked in to determine who won the race when the most voters participated in the election. However, to DuVal's point, the state will now spend more money and resources on an election that will likely turnout far fewer voters.

Barrow released a press release Monday, saying that he and DuVal agreed on a number of broad, system reforms they believe to be necessary to improve the election process. Barrow and DuVal both support the decertification of the electronic voting machines currently used in the state, and the implementation of hand-marked paper ballots with optical scanners for the election.

The issue of electronic voting machines versus hand-marked paper ballots was significant in the 2018 midterms. Secretary of State and Governor-elect Brian Kemp was hit with a lawsuit over failing to adequately secure voters' personal information and the state's voting machines.

A judge denied a request from plaintiffs to force the state to use paper ballots for the 2018 midterms as the lawsuit came too close to the election, but ordered to state to remedy the issue by the next election. It is an issue the next secretary of state will inherit.

Barrow and DuVal also find common ground on same-day registration and the implementation of an independent redistricting commission to redraw Georgia's electoral districts.

It is important to note that Georgia does have a citizens' ballot initiative process. All reform measures must be referred to the legislature and only state lawmakers can approve changes to the administration of elections and the electoral process.

However, if elected Barrow would be the state's chief elections administrator, meaning he would have increased influence on matters of reform.

DuVal's support may be enough to push Barrow across the finish line. Barrow trailed Raffensperger by less than half a percentage point on Election Day, while DuVal took 2.23%. Though the outcome will all come down to which candidate has the most successful get out the vote effort.

The runoff election will be held on December 4.

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