North Carolina has consistently ranked high in election integrity since we passed a tough verified voting law in 2005. But – in the name of “competition” – some folks want to take us back to the bad old days before the law was passed, when our standards were low to non-existent. We can’t let that happen. Prior to 2005 our counties used 18 different types of voting machines, vendor support was infrequent, maintenance was limited, training was sparse, and security was a joke. Each county did their own thing with ballot printing, and few complied with federal laws and standards. In 2004, we saw many election problems that came largely from decades of not having or complying with election integrity standards. We had a Florida-style meltdown in Carteret County when 5,000 votes were lost at one early voting location, which almost forced a $7.5 million statewide redo election. After the meltdown, the General Assembly in August 2005 passed the Public Confidence in Elections Act with unanimous bipartisan support. The law created statewide standards administered by the State Board of Elections.
The law required counties to have machines, software, ballot designs, and more – all tested, certified and maintained as a system. The law further required post-election audits and collection and publication of election data for improving future elections. Finally, the law required vendors to put source code in escrow and to post a surety bond to pay for a statewide election re-do, with criminal penalties for non-compliance with the law.
The 2005 law transformed North Carolina from a Florida-style laughingstock in 2004 to being ranked No. 1 in 2006 on our ability to count votes and audit elections. We also were ranked as one of the top eight states in readiness for the 2008 general election.
Naturally, some vendors and their supporters complained that our standards were too high. We wisely refused to lower our standards, and by late 2005 all the vendors dropped away but one. The law didn’t mandate one statewide vendor — that’s just how it worked out.