Just weeks after the availability of completed absentee ballots on the public email server came to light, questions are being raised about access to login information for the state’s election database system. The email server makes available to the public correspondence between officials in New Hanover County, including emails to and from elections director Marvin McFadyen. Since the ballots issue came to light last month, the county removed McFadyen’s email from the public server. According to a news release in late November from the Derrick Hickey Campaign, it found a “stockpile” of voted absentee ballots.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
In the ideal view of American government, voters choose the leaders who will guide their states and country. But some say the way U.S. House and state legislative districts are drawn has turned that idea on its head: Every 10 years, the party in power picks which voters incumbents will face in the next election. Results of this year’s general election have once again fueled concerns about North Carolina’s redistricting process, one in which the state General Assembly draws lines for U.S. House and legislative districts once a decade. Exactly half of all 120 state Houses races in November featured only one candidate. In the Senate, 19 of 50 races had just the one candidate. Only 30-40 of the remaining seats in the two chambers were truly “in play,” meaning either candidate had a realistic chance of winning, according to state political experts.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley won her re-election campaign against Forsyth County lawyer Mike Robinson despite vote tabulation errors discovered in several counties throughout the state. Beasley won by more than 5,000 votes in a race where more than 2.4 million votes were cast. Recount results, which the State Board of Elections certified during a teleconference meeting Tuesday, showed Robinson picked up a net of 17 votes across the state. Robinson has told State Board of Elections officials that he has conceded and will not seek a further recount. While the overall vote swing was not enough to make a meaningful dent in the election total, changes in Davidson, Lenoir and Wilson counties, all of which use touch-screen voting equipment, involved eye-catching totals of several hundred votes each. In Davidson County, Beasley picked up 520 votes and Robinson gained 884 votes since the time county elections officials originally canvassed votes. The problem, elections officials there say, was a faulty media card used to store and transfer votes from a touch-screen machine. ”It did not affect any of the outcomes of local races at all,” said Donna Zappala, who handles information technology issues for the Davidson County Board of Elections. The county was able to recover the votes from a backup system, she said.
Back in 2012, more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina’s Congressional elections. But Republicans ended up winning nine out of the state’s 13 seats that year. Those numbers piqued the interest of researchers at Duke, who decided to seek a mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. They recently published a study with their results. It’s near the end of a long workday and math Professor Jonathan Mattingly is climbing a steep set of stairs to his office on Duke University’s campus. ”We share this hall with the physics department, physics starts somewhere right down there,” Mattingly says. He opens the door to reveal an office that looks like it belongs to a math professor. There are books everywhere and a big chalkboard on one wall covered with half-erased equations. This is where Mattingly first got the idea to include one of his students, senior Christy Vaughn, in the mathematical conundrum of the 2012 U.S. Congressional Elections in North Carolina. ”One day I kinda had this idea that we should look at gerrymandering. And so I called her and I said I got an idea,” says Mattingly. (Gerrymandering is the setting of electoral districts in an attempt to obtain political gain.) ”Right away I was very interested in this project because it’s just such a stark result that so few seats were [awarded to Democrats] when the popular vote was so different,” chimes in Vaughn.
New voting restrictions and poll workers’ unpreparedness and confusion kept somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 eligible North Carolinians from voting in this fall’s general election. That’s the conclusion of a new report from Democracy North Carolina. The voting rights watchdog analyzed 500 reports from poll monitors in 38 counties and 1,400 calls to a voter assistance hotline to come up with its estimate, which does not include the thousands of people who might have voted before Election Day if the law had not cut the early voting period by a full week. The report found that most of the problems were due to three changes made by the law passed last year by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory: the repeal of same-day registration, which allowed qualified citizens to register and vote during the early voting period; the repeal of out-of-precinct voting, which allowed people to cast a valid provisional ballot at different polling sites in their county on Election Day; and the repeal of straight-party voting, which created backlogs at polling places and led to long waits for many. (Read the full report, which includes examples of specific challenges faced by voters, online here.)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley won her re-election campaign against Forsyth County lawyer Mike Robinson despite vote tabulation errors discovered in several counties throughout the state. Beasley won by more than 5,000 votes in a race where more than 2.4 million votes were cast. Recount results, which the State Board of Elections certified during a teleconference meeting Tuesday, showed Robinson picked up a net of 17 votes across the state. Robinson has told State Board of Elections officials that he has conceded and will not seek a further recount. While the overall vote swing was not enough to make a meaningful dent in the election total, changes in Davidson, Lenoir and Wilson counties, all of which use touch-screen voting equipment, involved eye-catching totals of several hundred votes each. In Davidson County, Beasley picked up 520 votes and Robinson gained 884 votes since the time county elections officials originally canvassed votes. The problem, elections officials there say, was a faulty media card used to store and transfer votes from a touch-screen machine.
Despite an effort by the Republican State Leadership Committee to influence the Supreme Court races in North Carolina, the three candidates targeted by the organization emerged as victors. Democrats Cheri Beasley, Sam Ervin IV and Robin Hudson won their races for seats on the bench of the state’s highest court. Hudson, an incumbent targeted in a spring attack ad funded largely by the Republican State Leadership Committee, and Ervin each received more than 52 percent of the vote. Ervin, a N.C. Court of Appeals judge who ran an unsuccessful bid for a high court seat in 2012, collected more votes than Bob Hunter, a former colleague on the state appeals court.
Election Day brings a series of changes in voting for North Carolina’s residents—but the early voting period showed that not all of the modifications have had the expected outcome. Some experts initially said that a 2013 bill limiting early voting, eliminating same-day registration and requiring voters to present identification at polling places would drive down voter turnout. This was anticipated to affect Democrats in particular—whose most loyal constituents, minorities and youth, are already less likely to vote, especially in midterm elections. But early voter turnout has increased across the state, with Democrats accounting for much of the surge. In the year since the bill was passed in the Republican-controlled legislature, it has been labeled by a number of state and national Democrats as a voter suppression campaign.
The North Carolina Supreme Court said Wednesday afternoon the courts should take up the issue of early voting on the campus of Appalachian State, literally moments after the State Board of Elections had voted to restore the on-campus early voting site. However, the early voting site will remain open as the state elections board voted, unless the board meets again to cancel the site. The Supreme Court order came down just before 5 p.m., about twenty minutes after the state board voted unanimously to OK the site in a hastily called emergency meeting. Early voting is scheduled to begin in Watauga County at 8 a.m. Thursday. The latest developments follow a ruling last week in a lawsuit filed by a group of Watauga County voters that argued the closure of the on-campus site was a transparent attempt to reduce Democratic turnout. Wake Superior Judge Donald Stephens agreed with the plaintiffs, ordering the state elections board to adopt a new early voting plan for Watauga County that would include a site on campus.
North Carolina: Early voting starts today, eligibility for 10,000 not verified | Winston-Salem Journal
The State Board of Elections will not be able to verify before the early-voting period begins today whether all of the nearly 10,000 names that it has flagged as belonging to possible ineligible voters are in fact ineligible, according to interviews with elections and transportation officials. Elections officials estimate that most are likely eligible to vote, but the uncertainty has led some state lawmakers to question why the verification process is happening now. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Wednesday that, according to the SBOE, a specific search of those 10,000 names on the state’s voter rolls turned up 145 that belong to immigrants in the U.S. under the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides qualified applicants with a two-year reprieve from deportation. The number has been pared down to 119 after more research, said Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the SBOE. ”Zero” DACA license holders have cast a ballot, he said. Mike Charbonneau, the deputy secretary of communications at the N.C. Department of Transportation, provided information on where some of the DACA license holders registered to vote.