North Carolina: Rapid loss of elections directors tied to low pay, investigation finds | Mehr Sher/Carolina Public Press

The rapid loss of North Carolina county elections directors has raised concerns about the inability of some counties to hire and retain qualified and experienced directors, which could interfere with their conduct of smooth and orderly elections. Carolina Public Press obtained data from North Carolina counties showing how much they paid elections directors and how long the current director has been on the job. Counties with highest pay tended to keep directors longer while those with lowest pay tended to have more recent turnover. The state statute governing elections director pay hasn’t been changed in 25 years. While some counties have increased pay, others are starved for resources. Read Article

North Carolina justices say those who helped file voting fraud allegations are protected from suit  | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who assisted voters with submitting some 2016 ballot complaints, saying the fraud allegations they helped make were broadly protected within the protest process. The 5-0 ruling overturns the decision of a lower appeals court that determined only those actively participating in the process were shielded from liability. It’s also a court victory for a legal defense fund for then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign, which also was sued. Four registered voters had sued in 2017 for libel and for damages, saying they were wrongly accused of voter fraud by pro-McCrory forces just after the close election that was ultimately won by Democrat Roy Cooper. Read Article

North Carolina elections board, in bipartisan vote, shoots down ‘audit force’ allegations of election violations | Will Doran/WRAL

The North Carolina State Board of Elections unanimously dismissed claims made by Carol Snow, an election integrity activist affiliated with the NC Audit Force group, alleging violations of federal election law and voter fraud going unchecked in the state. Snow’s complaint, which cited discrepancies in voter lists and instances of duplicate voting, was refuted by state elections board staff who attributed the errors to mistakes or Snow’s lack of access to certain data. Despite the growing popularity of grassroots election integrity efforts among conservatives, particularly fueled by former President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, the bipartisan agreement on the board deemed Snow’s claims baseless. Read Article

North Carolina lawsuits challenging same-day registration change can proceed, judge says | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

Two lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s tightened same-day voter registration regulations can proceed, despite recent adjustments by state election officials to address a judge’s constitutional concerns. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder declined to dismiss the suits, rejecting motions from defendants including Republican legislative leaders and the State Board of Elections. The lawsuits target a 2023 law altering the criteria for disqualifying votes cast by same-day registrants during the early voting period. The changes, affecting over 100,000 new registrants during recent presidential elections, include a provision requiring only one piece of undeliverable mail for removal from voter rolls instead of two, which critics argue heightens the risk of disenfranchisement due to paperwork errors or mail issues. Read Article

North Carolina: County elections directors leave amid low pay, voter hostility | Mehr Sher/Carolina Public Press

Over the past five years, North Carolina counties have changed elections directors 58 times, according to the North Carolina State Board Elections, with seven already this year. The state board’s executive director, Karen Brinson Bell, raised concerns about departures of so many county elections directors during a March 26 virtual state canvass meeting for the 2024 primary election. Since the beginning of 2024 four directors have retired and three resigned. Four of these positions have been filled in Chowan, Rowan and Currituck counties, while three remain vacant in Burke, Greene and Vance counties, according to data Carolina Public Press requested from the state board. The departures of county board of elections directors create a loss of institutional knowledge and pose challenges for election administration on the county level in a presidential election year, Brinson Bell said. Read Article

North Carolina trial judges block election board changes made by Republican legislature | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

North Carolina trial judges have issued a preliminary injunction blocking portions of a new law that aimed to transfer Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s authority to pick election board members to the Republican-dominated General Assembly. Cooper’s lawyers argued that the alterations to the State Board of Elections and county boards would harm his constitutional directive to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The new law, enacted in October, would increase the board to eight members appointed by the General Assembly, potentially creating a 4-4 split among Democrats and Republicans. Read Article

North Carolina Republicans enact voting changes that weaken governor’s ability to oversee elections | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

North Carolina Republicans have overridden Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes, enacting new voting restrictions and reducing the governor’s oversight on elections. The laws eliminate the governor’s authority to appoint the State Board of Elections, giving that power to legislative leaders, and end a three-day grace period for receiving absentee ballots, requiring them to arrive by the end of in-person voting on Election Day to be counted. These changes, aimed at the 2024 elections, face legal challenges from Democrats who argue that they favor Republicans and hinder voter access. Other provisions in the new laws include prohibiting private funding for elections administration and altering appointments to various boards and commissions, shifting authority to the General Assembly. Read Article

North Carolina Governor vetoes bill that would take away his control over election boards | Gary D. Robertson/Associated Press

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has vetoed Republican-backed legislation that seeks to shift the power to choose State Board of Elections members from the governor to legislative leaders. The proposed law comes at a critical juncture as the 2024 campaign cycle begins in the closely contested state. The bill, which would alter the current 3-2 party split on the board, is likely to face override votes in the coming month, with Republicans holding narrow veto-proof majorities in both chambers. The measure’s sponsors argue that an even split on the board would promote bipartisan consensus and bolster voter confidence in election outcomes. Critics, however, contend that the bill could lead to gridlock and potential reductions in early voting sites. Read Article

North Carolina Republicans Seek More Control Over Elections | Michael Wines/The New York Times

The North Carolina House recently passed legislation that would grant the legislature authority over all election board appointments, as well as change the composition of these boards to evenly divide seats between Republican and Democratic members, eliminating the governor’s tiebreaking seat. Republicans, who hold a veto-proof majority in both houses, are likely to override a potential veto by Governor Roy Cooper. Critics argue that this move, along with other recent measures such as exempting legislators from open records law and expediting appointments to the Environmental Management Commission, represents a power grab by the majority. Read Article

North Carolina governor vetoes election bill, sparking override showdown with GOP supermajority | Hannah Schoenbaum/Associated Press

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed a Republican-backed elections bill that would eliminate a grace period for voting by mail and introduce new provisions for partisan poll observers. The bill, which the governor accused Republicans of using to undermine voting rights for young and nonwhite voters, would make voting harder for certain demographics, potentially impacting their ability to elect Republicans. The governor’s veto comes as both major parties gear up for competitive elections in North Carolina, which is anticipated to be a presidential battleground and home to a closely contested gubernatorial race. Read Article

North Carolina Republicans’ bill limits mail voting, bans private election funding | Mariana Alfaro/The Washington Post

Republicans in North Carolina have passed legislation that tightens election administration by curbing absentee voting, enabling partisan poll watchers, and restricting private funding for elections, leading to concerns from voting rights advocates and Democrats that the law restricts access to the ballot. The law ends a three-day grace period for mailed absentee ballots, requires individuals participating in same-day registration to vote on a “retrievable” ballot, prohibits private funding for elections, and allows for more opportunities for individuals to challenge voter registrations. Governor Roy Cooper is expected to veto the legislation, but Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers. Read Article

North Carolina: ‘Ripe for political violence’: US election officials are quitting at an alarming rate | Daniel Walton/The Guardian

Adam Byrnes, a 21-year-old political science graduate from Emory University, is serving as the director of elections for Swain County, a critical swing state region in western North Carolina. He took on the role before graduating and is currently preparing for municipal elections in Bryson City while laying the foundations for the 2024 presidential contest. Byrnes is among a new wave of election officials entering the field, as at least 40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have had to replace their election directors in the last four years due to retirements, resignations, and other career moves. These new officials are faced with handling a complex voting system and heightened work-related stress, especially in a politically charged environment. They must navigate changes in election laws and address controversial issues, such as voter ID requirements, while trying to build trust and ensure fair elections. Read Article

North Carolina election security chief to lead statewide cybersecurity | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Torry Crass, the chief information security officer for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, has been appointed as the statewide chief risk officer by the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. In his new role, Crass will oversee the cybersecurity office and lead a “whole-of-state” strategy to share resources and develop incident response policies. As the State Board of Elections’ CISO, Crass was responsible for the cyber and physical security of North Carolina’s voting technology and served as a liaison to federal and state agencies. This appointment marks Crass’ first full-time public-sector job after more than 20 years in private-sector cybersecurity roles. Read Article

North Carolina board removes election officials who refused to certify | Hannah Schoenbaum/Associated Press

North Carolina’s state elections board on Tuesday removed two local election officials who had refused to certify their county’s 2022 results after officials determined they violated state law. The state board voted unanimously to dismiss Surry County elections secretary Jerry Forestieri and board member Timothy DeHaan in one of the strongest disciplinary actions taken against local officials across the U.S. who have delayed or refused to certify election results. Controversies over election certification have roiled mostly rural counties across the country as conspiracy theories about voting machines have spread widely among conservatives. Forestieri and DeHaan had questioned the legitimacy of state election law and court decisions disallowing photo ID checks and voter residency challenges. They falsely claimed in a letter that the vote was “illegal” and “very uncertain.” “These rulings have stripped the election process of the trustworthiness they were designed to protect,” they wrote. “Since then, the general welfare of the citizens of North Carolina has been damaged by a growing lack of trust in our election process.” The two circulated the letter during a canvas meeting last fall when county election officials convened to certify the accuracy of the vote count. DeHaan ultimately signed on to certify, while Forestieri did not.

Full Article: N.C. board removes election officials who refused to certify | AP News

North Carolina County official refused to certify 2022 election results. Two face removal from office | Charles Duncan/Spectrum News

Two people on the Surry County Board of Elections face a hearing to remove them from the board after they circulated a letter calling the 2022 elections “illegal,” and one refused to certify the results. A complaint filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections says Jerry Forestieri and Timothy DeHaan should be removed from the Surry County board. In the letter, the two Surry County men took issue with a 2018 federal court ruling that stopped voter ID requirements in North Carolina. They did not question the results in their county in the foothills northwest of Winston-Salem. “Secretary Forestieri and Member DeHaan failed to uphold their oaths of office while executing the duties of their offices as county board members during the Surry County canvass meeting,” said Bob Hall, the former head of the left-leaning Democracy NC, in his complaint to the state board. “Their inflammatory language, as expressed in the Canvass Letter and confirmed during the board meeting, shows an unmistakable failure to support the federal and state constitutions as interpreted by our courts, and to instead substitute their own version of election law in its place,” Hall said.

Full Article: County official refused to certify election, 2 face removal

On North Carolina’s Supreme Court, G.O.P. Justices Move to Reconsider Democratic Rulings | Michael Wines/The New York Times

An extraordinary pair of orders by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Supreme Court is highlighting how the partisan tug of war has pervaded the state’s courts and, by extension, the nation’s. On Friday, the court moved to rehear two major voting rights cases that it had previously decided, one striking down a gerrymandered map of State Senate districts and another nullifying new voter identification requirements. Such rehearings by the court are exceedingly rare. In fact, North Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered as many rehearings on Friday as it has in the past three decades. What also made the rehearings exceptional was that the cases had been decided less than two months ago — by a court that, at the time, contained four Democratic and three Republican justices. The court that voted to rehear the cases has a 5-to-2 Republican majority, courtesy of the party’s sweep of state Supreme Court races in November. And the potential beneficiary of those reviews is the Republican leadership of the state General Assembly, which had both drawn the political map and enacted the voter ID law that the court struck down in December. Lawyers for those leaders asked the court to reconsider the cases in petitions filed last month. “Quite literally the only thing that changed is the court’s composition,” Joshua Douglas, a professor and expert on state constitutions at the University of Kentucky College of Law, said in an interview. “The whole thing simply smells of partisanship.”

Full Article: On North Carolina’s Supreme Court, G.O.P. Justices Move to Reconsider Democratic Rulings – The New York Times

North Carolina dispute over congressional districts tees up major elections case at Supreme Court | Lawrence Hurley/NBC

When the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn congressional district maps in February, Rep. Tim Moore, the Republican speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, reached for some potent ammunition. In appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, he and his allies embraced a hitherto obscure legal argument called the “independent state legislature” theory, which critics say could upend election law if the justices embrace it in a case being argued Wednesday. Moore said in an interview that he backed the theory because it is the only way to challenge a state court ruling that he believes was not based on law or precedent. “This ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court was one more ruling that many of us believed just went beyond the pale of anything we had seen a state court do and really was just a political ruling,” he said, citing other rulings with which he had disagreed. The case, which could have a broad impact on an array of election issues, is being closely watched for its potential impact on the 2024 presidential election.

Full Article: Dispute over North Carolina congressional districts tees up major elections case at Supreme Court

North Carolina: A County Elections Director Stood Up to Locals Who Believe the Voting System Is Rigged. They Pushed Back Harder. | Doug Bock Clark/ProPublica

On a Saturday in late March, the woman who runs elections in the rural hills of Surry County, North Carolina, was pulling another weekend shift preparing for the upcoming primary, when she began to hear on the other side of her wall the thunder of impassioned speeches. She was dismayed that the voices were questioning the election she’d overseen in 2020 and implying that corrupted voting machines had helped steal it. She also believed it was no coincidence that the Surry County GOP convention — the highlight of which was a lecture from a nationally prominent proponent of the stolen-election myth — was taking place in a public meeting room right next to her office.The elections director, 47-year-old Michella Huff, who’d lived in the county since high school and knew many voters by name, considered it ludicrous that anyone could think the election had been rigged in Surry County. Donald Trump had received upward of 70% of the roughly 36,000 votes cast. Huff, a registered Republican for most of her adult life, had personally certified the vote. Yet people had begun approaching Huff in church recently, saying things like, “I know you didn’t do anything, but that election was stolen.” In February, a longtime acquaintance of Huff’s cornered her in a bluegrass music store and berated her with complaints rooted in conspiracy theories. Huff started limiting her trips to town, even doing her grocery order online. “I didn’t want to have to deal with that,” she said of the election backlash. But it was hard to live in partial hiding. “I’m not that kind of person. I’m a people person.”

Full Article: Elections Officials Facing Unprecedented Challenges — ProPublica

North Carolina elections board seeks rule changes to reduce conflicts with observers | Paul Specht/WRAL

During the state’s primary elections a few months ago, election observers posed a problem to voters in Davidson County. There to monitor that votes were entered and tabulated properly, these private citizens hovered or moved awkwardly through polling places in an effort to make sure election workers were doing their jobs correctly. “There were several that weren’t aware of where they could and could not be in the polling place,” Andrew Richards, Davidson County’s director, recently told the state elections board. “While most were perfectly fine, several demanded to be behind the machines to watch people vote. When told they could not be behind the voting equipment several became argumentative.” Richards added: “Clearer rules rather than just legal language is needed.” Election officials around North Carolina are reporting similar instances, including heated confrontations between voters, observers and election officials. In response, North Carolina’s state election board is proposing temporary rule changes for election observers. It’s an attempt to reduce confusion over existing laws and prevent interference that some counties reported when conducting the May primaries.

Full Article: NC elections board seeks rule changes to reduce conflicts with observers :: WRAL.com

North Carolina: Partisan attacks are undermining the efforts of election workers | Rusty Jacobs/North Carolina Public Radio

Annie Risku thought she had a lot to celebrate on election night, back in 2020. She had just taken over as Wayne County’s director of elections that July. And despite a pandemic, the state experienced historic voter turnout. In Wayne County, Risku’s office successfully processed more than 10 times the typical number of absentee-by-mail ballots. “We were so focused on COVID, preparing for the pandemic, keeping the voters safe, keeping their hands clean, keeping them from breathing on one another,” Risku said with a wry laugh during a recent interview in her downtown Goldsboro office. Then came the wave of intense skepticism about the elections process, including from voters in this county that Donald Trump carried. She says it caught her a little off-guard. “We had, after 2020, a lot of individuals who didn’t trust that we had actually counted all the votes,” Risku explained. One woman demanded to enter her office to watch Risku count ballots, even though no such thing was happening or ever happens. Ballot counting is conducted according to state law in a prescribed manner and in public view. For example, county boards begin processing mail-in ballots at weekly meetings starting five weeks before Primary and General Election Day. And county boards hold public meetings to process ballots during the 10-day canvas period after Election Day, which culminates in the certification of official results.

Full Article: Partisan attacks are undermining the efforts of North Carolina’s election workers | WUNC

North Carolina counties prepare voting systems for early voting | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

North Carolina counties finished testing their voting machines and election reporting systems last week in preparation for voting, which begins in person on Thursday ahead of the May 17 primary. Voting in modern elections relies on a series of computers to count and report votes. North Carolina counties completed the voting machine review, called “logic and accuracy” testing, and a mock election to make sure results uploads were running smoothly by April 21, according to the state’s election calendar. “We conduct these tests to ensure that tabulation and results reporting go smoothly on election nights, and so county board staff are comfortable with the process,” said Pat Gannon, spokesperson for the N.C. State Board of Elections. That North Carolina combines its testing of logic and accuracy with mock elections to prepare for elections is a great practice, according to Mark Lindeman, director of Verified Voting, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to elections security.

Full Article: NC counties prepare voting systems for early voting – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina: Local election chief threatened by Republican leader seeking illegal access to voting equipment | Nathan Layne/Reuters

A local Republican Party leader in North Carolina threatened to get a county elections director fired or have her pay cut unless she helped him gain illegal access to voting equipment, the state elections board told Reuters. The party official, William Keith Senter, sought evidence to support false conspiracy theories alleging the 2020 election was rigged against former U.S. President Donald Trump. The previously unreported incident is part of a national effort by Trump supporters to audit voting systems to bolster the baseless stolen-election claims. Senter, chair of the Surry County Republican Party, told elections director Michella Huff that he would ensure she lost her job if she refused his demand to access the county’s vote tabulators, the North Carolina State Board of Elections said in written responses to questions from Reuters. Senter was “aggressive, threatening, and hostile,” in two meetings with Huff, the state elections board said, citing witness accounts.

Full Article: Exclusive: Local election chief threatened by Republican leader seeking illegal access to voting equipment | Reuters

North Carolina: Modems removed from voting machines in five counties | David N. Bass/Carolina Journal

The N.C. State Board of Elections recently removed analog modems from voting equipment in five counties, a move that has drawn criticism from the N.C. House Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus — 25 House members chaired by Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort — has sought for months to inspect voting equipment to check for internet connections, most recently in Durham County. News that the state elections board has removed modems from voting equipment in Watauga, Graham, Macon, Montgomery, and Swain counties drew a stinging rebuke in a statement from the caucus, which claimed that the elections board “has stonewalled and denied access to voting equipment, as well as even acknowledge the existence of modems in North Carolina voting machines.” The counties in question had used M100 ballot scanners created by the voting machine manufacturer Election Systems and Software, or ES&S, and purchased from the N.C.-based company Printelect. According to a Dec. 10 memo from the elections board, the M100 machines contain “obsolete analog modem hardware” that requires a connection to a telephone. On Nov. 9, state elections director Karen Brinson Bell hosted a Microsoft Teams virtual meeting with officials from the five counties to inform them that Printelect would be conducting preventative maintenance on the machines and would remove the modems. As of mid-December, all modems had been removed from the machines.

Full Article: Modems removed from voting machines in five N.C. counties – Carolina Journal – Carolina Journal

North Carolina: Watauga County Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Watauga Democrat

It has recently come to the attention of the Watauga County Board of Elections that modems were removed from ballot-counting machines used by the Board in county elections, the board announced in a Dec. 9 press release. Before being removed, these modems had never been used. Given the importance of a fair and transparent election process, the board stated it wished, with this announcement, to make relevant information promptly available to the public. Since 2002, the Board has used M100 ballot scanners to count ballots. The Board voted unanimously to purchase this equipment. The scanners were purchased from Printelect, a North Carolina company. The Board owns 31 M100 ballot scanners. They have been used in every election since their initial purchase. On Nov. 9, Karen Brinson Bell, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, hosted a Microsoft Teams meeting with election staff from the six counties that still use M100 ballot scanners. In addition to Watauga, these counties include Graham, Macon, Moore, Montgomery, and Swain. Director Bell informed them that Printelect would be undertaking annual preventative maintenance and would remove any modems found in the machines.

Full Article: Watauga Board of Elections releases statement on modems in voting machines | Local News | wataugademocrat.com

North Carolina Elections Board to review results of new election audit tests | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

The N.C. State Board of Elections will consider the results of testing a new kind of post-election audit in North Carolina this week. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to certify the results of November’s municipal elections. As part of that process, the board reviews data and reports from the county and state election officials to make sure they ran they elections fairly and accurately. This time, the board has an extra tool for reviewing results from the 17 counties that test-ran “risk-limiting audits,” or RLAs, last week. RLAs are “tabulation audits,” or the kind of post-election check using statistical analysis to make sure the machines that read ballots and count votes did so accurately. The counties participating in the pilot are Beaufort, Brunswick, Buncombe, Carteret, Cleveland, Granville, Harnett, Henderson, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Scotland, Stokes, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wayne and Wilkes. State and county election officials are looking to RLAs to increase public confidence in elections and to improve the efficiency of election administration, though county election officials told Carolina Public Press more work remains before RLAs are likely to achieve either goal in North Carolina. The state board ran the audit pilots to find ways it can improve the process before moving forward, according to spokesperson Pat Gannon. North Carolina follows in the footsteps of Colorado, Virginia and Rhode Island, which require RLAs after elections. Another dozen states are piloting RLAs or have made them an option. The audits are recommended by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and a bevy of other state, federal and good-governance organizations. Depending on the RLA report state election staff presents on Tuesday, the board could decide to run another round of pilots in more — or all — counties in the spring primary elections, Gannon said. Alternatively, the board could decide to take no further action.

Full Article: NC Elections Board to review results of new election audit tests – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina counties piloting new system for auditing elections | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

Election night results are in, and in many cases the outcomes are clear, but the votes are not final. Before that can happen, county boards of election must go through a series of postelection procedures before certifying the election. This year, 15 counties are adding to their workload by testing out a new way to check election results, called “risk-limiting audits.” This new process could make post-election checks more efficient, more secure and improve confidence among voters. The N.C. State Board of Elections first tried to pilot these audits in March 2020, but the spread of COVID-19 put those plans on hold. Now, with this year’s municipal elections, the state is putting a years-in-the-making plan into action, “with the hope that RLAs will be instituted in all counties in future elections,” according to the State Board of Elections. But there’s a long road from here to there. Risk-limiting audits, as a mathematical concept, have been around for over a decade but have only begun to get broad attention by states in the last several years. Colorado, Rhode Island and Virginia require these audits by law, while another dozen states have pilot or optional risk-limiting audit programs. Most took years to develop the processes and laws to implement risk-limiting audits. North Carolina is not following a legislative path to put the audits in place. Instead, counties are completing their regular post-election procedures, including the current statutorily required sample audit, before certifying their election results. Then, in the time between their own certification and the state issuing final approval of the results, the 15 counties will run the additional risk-limiting audits.

 

Full Artic le: 15 NC counties piloting new system for auditing elections – Carolina Public Press

North Carolina Republicans aren’t fooling anyone with dig at Durham County elections | Raleigh News & Observer

Despite Republicans’ claims over the last year, instances of voter fraud are incredibly rare. Maybe North Carolina Republicans haven’t gotten the memo. On Thursday, state representative Jeff McNeely (R-Iredell) and a handful of other Republican state House members who call themselves “the Freedom Caucus” said they would select one of North Carolina’s 100 counties to inspect their voting machines and determine whether they were connected to the internet during the 2020 election. They “randomly selected” Durham County — a Democratic stronghold with large Black and Latino populations. To this point, Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina have mostly resisted participating in sowing doubts about elections, unlike their colleagues in other states. Such talk threatens to undermine confidence in future elections, when the reality is that multiple safeguards ensure that elections are secure and accurate. The State Board of Elections randomly audited 200 North Carolina precincts from both the 2020 Election Day and early voting, and found only 13 precincts had discrepancies between human and machine counts; each of these precincts had three or less votes affected.

Full Article: NC Republicans need to give up election fraud claims already | Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina: GOP lawmaker backs down from threat to force way into Durham County elections office | Laura Leslie/WRAL

A group of Republican House members announced Thursday that they are launching a fraud investigation into North Carolina elections and said they would start by inspecting voting machines in Durham County, with or without the cooperation of state or county election officials. Rep. Jeff McNeely, R-Iredell, conducted a “random drawing” of a county name out of a hat, and Durham County was chosen. Perhaps coincidentally, Republicans have accused Durham County of voter fraud in the past, especially in 2016, when a late vote tally there swung the governor’s race in favor of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over then-incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Citing “many, many millions of accusations” of “machine tampering and votes being switched because of modems,” McNeely said at a news conference that lawmakers intend to see for themselves whether the machines have modems in them. Voting machines in North Carolina do not have modems and are not connected to the internet, by state law.

Full Article: GOP lawmaker backs down from threat to force way into Durham elections office :: WRAL.com

North Carolina: Right-wing legislators want to inspect Durham County’s voting machines. Election officials say ‘no.’ | Lynn Bonner/NC Policy Watch

A group of right-wing North Carolina House members calling themselves the Freedom Caucus want to crack open Durham County’s voting machines to check for vote manipulation despite no evidence of irregularities. Members of the group announced their intentions at a news conference Thursday morning, and said they were picking a county at random. Durham is a heavily Democratic county and voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in a state that Donald Trump won. “We started an investigation as to whether there were any foreign objects or modems or anything,” said Rep. Jeff McNeely, an Iredell Republican. Later on the House floor, Rep. Zack Hawkins, a Durham Democrat, said members of the Freedom Caucus are not getting into the county’s voting machines. “You are not welcome in Durham County,” he said. In an email, Durham Board of Elections Director Derek Bowens said no one can open the machines. “No one will be permitted to inspect voting equipment in Durham County as per statute and direction from the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections,” he wrote.

Full Article: Right-wing legislators want to inspect Durham’s voting machines. Election officials say ‘no.’ | The Pulse

North Carolina legislators must release the money to secure elections | John Shallcross Jr. and Chip Futrell/Charlotte Observer

As Republican and Democratic county election board members, we are pleased to report that North Carolina voters should have confidence in our election systems. But maintaining secure election systems requires a concerted year-round effort in today’s world — and we need continued support from voters and public officials to accomplish that task. Across North Carolina new voters are registering daily and their data must be protected, along with yours. New voting machines are being tested, purchased and retested. Old software and backup systems are being replaced with modern systems that resist cyberattacks. Our operations must be continually audited to detect vulnerabilities. Fortunately, federal funds under the bipartisan 2020 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) have already been sent to North Carolina to finance this effort. But those funds must be released (appropriated) in the state budget that legislators are now debating. As county election officials, we understand the importance of releasing this money because it has a tangible impact, in small and big ways, on our ability to do our job — to protect voters and to maintain a fair, accessible and secure voting system. Given the attention election integrity has received nationally, it would be tragic to withhold these funds.

Full Article: Legislators must release the money to secure NC elections | Charlotte Observer