North Carolina

Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.

North Carolina: State certifies barcode ballot voting systems despite security concerns | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

Amid threats of litigation from all sides, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 3-2 Friday afternoon to certify a voting system that experts say is insecure, voting rights groups advocated against and many public comments opposed.Chairman Damon Circosta, a Democrat, in his first meeting after being appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper, voted against a motion to make voting system certification requirements more stringent. The board’s two Republican members, David Black and Kenneth Raymond, voted with Circosta.The new certification requirements, proposed by Dr. Stella Anderson and supported by fellow Democrat Jeff Carmon III, would have precluded one voting-machine vendor, Election Systems and Software (ES&S), from having its system certified.The room for Friday’s meeting was packed with voters and advocates from civil rights and voting rights organizations, such as Democracy NC, which seeks to improve voter turnout in elections.“This is disappointing,” Democracy NC executive director Tomas Lopez said. “But the decision on what ultimately gets purchased is with the counties, and with the county boards of elections in particular.” Two counties, Davie and Transylvania, submitted letters to the board asking that existing certification requirements not be changed. Both counties use voting-machine-for-all systems, using old technology that the state will decertify on Dec. 1.

Full Article: NC certifies barcode ballot voting systems despite security concerns.

North Carolina: Election officials closely watching state vote on voting systems Friday as 2019, 2020 races loom | Emily Featherston/WECT

Along with everything else it takes to prepare for the upcoming 2019 municipal elections, and the 2020 primaries close on their heels, election officials in southeastern North Carolina are also waiting to see what kind of equipment they will be able to use. On Friday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections is expected to finally make a decision that will dictate what machines voters use to cast a ballot. Most of the attention has been focused on the state’s move away from touchscreen equipment that only generates an electronic ballot, as counties across North Carolina wait to see what equipment will be approved for them to buy. New Hanover County is also waiting for the state’s stamp of approval for the replacement of its outdated voting equipment. New Hanover County last purchased ballot tabulators in 2006, explained county board of elections director Rae Hunter-Havens. Those machines typically have a lifespan of just 10 years — and they are starting to show their age. “We’ve exceeded that end-of-life projection,” Hunter-Havens said, and that means increasing mechanical issues.

Full Article: Election officials closely watching state vote on voting systems Friday as 2019, 2020 races loom.

North Carolina: Vote security on the line in Board of Elections meeting | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

When the NC Board of Elections meets Friday, it will make decisions about voting equipment for 2020 elections that could determine the security of the state’s election process and how much confidence voters can have that the system records and tabulates their votes as they intended. Security experts, federal research agencies and the US Senate agree on best practices for secure election equipment. They recommend that most voters use hand-marked paper ballots, count the ballots using digital scanners and audit the paper ballots for correctness before election results are made official. Most North Carolinians already vote this way. However, 23 of the state’s 100 counties use touch screens to cast their ballots, a system that experts consider insecure and outdated because it cannot be effectively audited. For that reason, North Carolina is set to decertify those systems by Dec. 1. This week, the state board of elections will consider certifying replacement systems. The decisions the board makes will have a domino effect of consequences for the security, privacy and accessibility of elections across the state.

Full Article: Vote security on the line in NC Board of Elections meeting.

North Carolina: Elections board to pick chair, key decision looms | Associated Press

The North Carolina elections board has a new leader ahead of a decision on what kind of voting machines are secure against efforts to alter ballots.
The state Board of Elections voted Tuesday to make nonprofit executive Damon Circosta of Raleigh its new chairman. Gov. Roy Cooper last week picked Circosta as the Democrat to replace former chairman Bob Cordle, who resigned after telling a crude joke. Circosta was politically unaffiliated last year when he was named chairman of a different version of the elections board. He now joins two other Democrats and two Republicans. The elections board later this month is expected to decide whether the next generation of voting machines should be required to furnish a paper printout so voters can read and confirm their ballots.

Full Article: N Carolina elections board to pick chair, key decision looms | WSOC-TV.

North Carolina: Proposal offers new absentee ballot security, tweaks early voting hours | Travis Fain/WRAL

House leadership rolled out a wide-ranging election bill Thursday to tinker with early voting hours, let counties that use touchscreen voting machines keep doing so and tighten absentee ballot rules in response to last year’s 9th Congressional District scandal. Among other things, Senate Bill 683 would start a pilot project to cover postage on absentee ballots so that voters wouldn’t have to buy stamps. There are other measures meant to keep campaigns from trying to collect absentee ballots en masse, including a rule requiring prohibiting outside groups from returning ballot request forms. Those forms would also change every election so groups couldn’t simply photocopy old ones and submit fraudulent requests. The 12-page bill has been under construction for some time, and it has a ways to go to become law. Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, a House leader on election issues, said in a statement that he looks forward to working with the Senate to get the bill passed “in a timely manner.”

Full Article: Proposal offers new absentee ballot security, tweaks early voting hours ::

North Carolina: State elections board delays mandating readable election ballots | Emery P. Dalesio/Associated Press

The state elections board declined Thursday to decide whether the next generation of voting machines should be required to furnish a paper printout so voters can read and confirm their ballots. One-third of North Carolina’s 100 counties must replace their current touch-screen voting machines after this year’s elections. The counties buy the machines but only from those vendors approved by the state Elections Board. A decision shaping how ballots will be cast and counted for years to come could come at the board’s Aug. 23 meeting. Some voters, supported by elections board member Stella Anderson, want to add a new requirement that ballot machines “produce human readable marks on a paper ballot” allowing voters to confirm their “intent as evidence by the mark on the ballot.”

Full Article: North Carolina delays mandating readable election ballots - Fairfield Citizen.

North Carolina: Elections Board Awaiting New Member To Break Tie On Voting Machines | Rusty Jacobs/WUNC

North Carolina’s elections board is deadlocked over whether to require that voting machines produce a paper printout that lets voters read and confirm their ballot. The state’s Board of Elections on Thursday decided to debate the issue again in three weeks. By then, it’s likely a fifth member will be appointed to replace former chairman Bob Cordle who resigned this week. Cordle stepped down under fire Tuesday after telling an inappropriate joke at a conference for county elections officials on Monday. His resignation is significant because Cordle would have been a third vote on the five-member, bi-partisan board backing certification. Three companies are seeking certification of their equipment, including one system that doesn’t use hand-marked paper ballots and emits a ticket with a bar code that is then scanned to tabulate voters’ choices. Once a company’s system is certified by the state, the vendor may contract with individual counties. Twenty-two counties use touch-screen equipment that is due to be de-certified December 1.

Full Article: Elections Board Awaiting New Member To Break Tie On Voting Machines | WUNC.

North Carolina: State Elections Board’s Sudden Vacancy Could Affect Debate Over Certification Of New Voting Machines | Rusty Jacobs/WUNC

The sudden resignation of State Board of Elections Chairman Bob Cordle presents an opportunity for people who oppose the certification of new voting systems in future North Carolina elections. The board is scheduled to meet Thursday and had been expected to move towards certifying three new systems. Once certified by the state board, the vendors for those systems may seek contracts with individual counties. The board’s two Republicans, Ken Raymond and David Black, and Cordle, a Democrat, favored certification. But Cordle stepped down Tuesday, just a day after telling an inappropriate joke during remarks at the start of  a conference for state and county elections officials. Gov. Roy Cooper must now choose a replacement from a list of nominees submitted by the state Democratic Party. He could end up selecting someone who would join the board’s other two Democrats, Jeff Carmon III and Stella Anderson, in opposing certification. That would tip the five-member board towards not certifying. At a public meeting on Sunday, convened to allow the voting systems vendors to present their equipment to the state elections board members, advocacy groups and concerned citizens had urged the board to put off certification and continue using the hand-marked ballot and tabulator system employed by most counties across the state. They cited potential vulnerabilities in newer voting technologies.

Full Article: State Elections Board's Sudden Vacancy Could Affect Debate Over Certification Of New Voting Machines | WUNC.

North Carolina: Board of Elections does a 180 on decision to delay certifying voting machines | Melissa Boughton/NC Policy Watch

The North Carolina State Board of Elections plans to move forward with certifying new voting machines ahead of the 2020 elections after a member mistakenly voted Monday night to delay the process to create stricter requirements out of concern for cyber security.The reversal of course came as a surprise to voting rights advocates and citizens who had praised Board members last night for postponing certification in the name of voter integrity. Board members had voted 3-2 for the postponement in order to adopt more stringent requirements for digital voting systems at a later meeting in mid-August (a meeting for which they would have provided 15 days’ notice to the public). However, another meeting notice sent out Tuesday by the Board stated that the group planned to consider a motion this Thursday morning to “rescind [the] decision to notice meeting to amend NC Election Systems Certification Program.” “Board Member David Black said he misunderstood the motion of Board Secretary Stella Anderson and was not aware it would stop the present certification in its tracks,” said Board Chairman Bob Cordle in an email. “He did not realize that, so he wants to set that vote aside and move ahead with certification. Some board members believe it’s not fair to try to change the requirements at this late date — more than two and a half years after the process started.”

Full Article: Board of Elections does a 180 on decision to delay certifying voting machines | NC Policy Watch.

North Carolina: Another delay on voting machines, and a move toward hand-marked ballots | Travis Fain/WRAL

North Carolina moved toward a new requirement for hand-marked ballots Monday night when a divided, but bipartisan, State Board of Elections voted to rework the rules that govern what voting machines are allowed here. The board will have to gather again in about two weeks to make the change official, and Monday’s decision delayed for the third time in two months a long-awaited decision to certify new voting equipment. But activists hailed the vote as a move toward more secure elections. The time to approve new machines ahead of the 2020 elections grows short. State law requires small test runs in actual elections before new machines can be fully deployed, meaning equipment would need to be in place for the November municipal elections to be ready for the March 2020 presidential primaries. The state legislature may change that law, allowing for simulated election tests instead. It may also delay the coming decertification of touchscreen voting systems that roughly a third of North Carolina counties use now.

Full Article: Another delay on voting machines, and a move toward hand-marked ballots ::

North Carolina: Board of Elections delays election machine vote | Will Doran/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina election officials cited lingering concerns over election hacking in explaining why they again delayed certifying new voting machines for the 2020 elections Monday. “Trust and confidence in the security of any voting system that we put in place in North Carolina is absolutely vital,” said Stella Anderson, the board member who proposed the delay Monday night. The five-member board has a majority of Democrats, but the vote was bipartisan — and not without controversy. Anderson and fellow Democrat Jeff Carmon voted with Republican member David Black to delay the decision. The board’s chairman, Democrat Bob Cordle, opposed the delay, as did Republican member Ken Raymond. Cordle and Raymond say the delay has them concerned about a time crunch. With Monday’s vote, a decision wouldn’t be made until at least mid-August, in order to provide the public ample notice of a new meeting. The voting machines used in about a third of North Carolina’s counties will be certified at the end of this year. Cordle and Raymond said any further delays will harm the counties that need to figure out which new machines they want to use in 2020.

Full Article: NC Board of Elections delays election machine vote | Raleigh News & Observer.

North Carolina: Elections board hears concerns about voting systems | Dan Kane/Raleigh News & Observer

After a three-hour hearing that included representatives of three voting system vendors demonstrating their wares to State Board of Elections members, the board Sunday night chose to wait a day before deciding which ones to certify for counties across the state to use. Board chairman Bob Cordle said after a nearly hour-long closed session that waiting a day would allow Ken Raymond of Winston-Salem, the one member of the five-person board who was unable to attend Sunday, to vote. The board will reconvene at 7 p.m. Monday. “We just think it’s better to have all five of us here,” Cordle said. The meeting was held on the evening before the annual North Carolina elections conference, which runs Monday and Tuesday at the hotel. Board spokesman Pat Gannon said roughly 700 elections officials from across the state are expected to attend.

Full Article: NC elections board hears concerns about voting systems | Raleigh News & Observer.

North Carolina: Board of Elections to decide on new voting machines | Rad Berky/WCNC

In an unusual weekend session, the North Carolina State Board of Elections will meet Sunday to certify the companies who want to sell new voting machines for use in elections next year. This follows the decision to return the state from electronic voting to equipment that uses paper ballots. Mecklenburg County’s Elections Director Michael Dickerson said the county is one of a few that already keeps a paper record, but whichever new system is chosen will go a step farther. “We have a paper record of what you voted but they want to give each voter a paper ballot before you finalize your vote,” said Dickerson. South Carolina this week took the wraps off the new equipment voters there will be using. After finalizing choices on a touchscreen, the machines will print a paper ballot with a barcode. Voters will then check their paper ballot and place it in a scanner. The scanner takes an image of the ballot, counts it and keeps the original in a locked ballot box.

Full Article: North Carolina Board of Elections to decide on new voting machines |

North Carolina: Elections board may pick new voting machine options Sunday | Travis Fain/WRAL

The State Board of Elections will meet Sunday evening for a certification vote on what new voting machines will be allowed in North Carolina. The long-delayed decision will follow a demonstration of the various options from companies hoping to do business, or more business, in the state. Local boards of election decide what systems to buy, but the state board has to decide first whether various options meet state requirements. “If they meet the statutory requirements, they’re to be certified,” Board Chairman Robert Cordle said Tuesday. The board plans to meet at 5 p.m. in the Triangle Ballroom at the Cary Embassy Suites on Harrison Oaks Boulevard in Cary, not in the usual meeting room at the board offices.

Full Article: NC elections board may pick new voting machine options Sunday ::

North Carolina: New elections loom without decision on voting machines | Travis Fain/WRAL

Voters in large swaths of North Carolina may use touchscreen voting equipment again for the 2020 presidential elections, despite the legislature voting in 2013 to phase out these machines in favor of paper ballots. Legislation to delay that for a third time in the last 6 years is pending at the General Assembly, and the state’s elections director has backed the delay as the State Board of Elections weighs what new machines to sign off on. Separate legislation is also moving through the General Assembly to require all the companies that want to sell voting machines in North Carolina to put up a $17 million bond, a change that at least one competing vendor sees as a way to discourage competition, and the current vendor says is only fair. Meanwhile the federal government is probing poll books used in Durham in the 2016 elections for evidence of foreign tampering. State elections officials are also doing a deeper dive on the three companies hoping to sell voting machines to local boards of election, probing whether any have foreign ownership. State officials asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assist with that and report back on any potentially troubling ties, State Board member Stella Anderson said Friday. “I doubt (they find anything), but you never know,” Anderson said.

Full Article: New elections loom without decision on voting machines ::

North Carolina: ‘A risk to democracy’: North Carolina law may be violating secrecy of the ballot | Jordan Wilkie/The Guardian

North Carolina may be violating state and federal constitutional protections for the secret ballot in the US by tracing some of its citizens’ votes. The situation has arisen because North Carolina has a state law that demands absentee voting – which includes early, in-person voting as well as postal voting – is required to use ballots that can be traced back to the voter. The laws are in place as a means of guaranteeing that if citizens cast multiple ballots during early voting or that if ineligible residents – like non-citizens or people who have not completed sentences for criminal offenses – cast ballots, those votes can be retrieved and removed. Likewise, if a voter casts an early ballot then dies before election day, that ballot can then be discounted. But voting rights advocates think the North Carolina law breaks one of the most sacred tenets of the democratic system: preserving the secrecy of the ballot. “Anytime you can link a ballot back to the individual voter, that’s a violation of the secret ballot,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, the chief technology officer for the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Full Article: ‘A risk to democracy’: North Carolina law may be violating secrecy of the ballot | US news | The Guardian.

North Carolina: Senators question DHS on North Carolina voting equipment malfunctions | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are demanding answers regarding voting equipment malfunctions in North Carolina during the 2016 presidential election, as election security continues to be a contentious topic on Capitol Hill. Klobuchar and Reed sent a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan late last week asking him to explain the steps taken by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to investigate the “unexpected behavior” of voting equipment made by VR Systems during the 2016 election in Durham County, North Carolina. On election day, electronic poll books in this county made by VR Systems malfunctioned, leading the county to switch to paper poll books. It is not clear if this was the result of a cyberattack or a different cause.  The letter from the two Democratic senators was sent in the wake of the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which concluded that Russian officers “targeted employees of [redacted], a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network.”

Full Article: Senators question DHS on North Carolina voting equipment malfunctions | TheHill.

North Carolina: Russian hacking in Durham? DHS looking into machines used in 2016 election | Mona Tong and Rose Wong/The Chronicle

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the equipment—provided by a company allegedly targeted by Russian hackers—used in Durham County during the 2016 election. On Election Day in 2016, certain voting machines malfunctioned by incorrectly telling voters they had already cast their ballot, leading affected polling stations to switch to paper poll books, according to the Washington Post. The equipment also asked some people for photo identification, which was not legally required at the time. This snafu created lengthy delays and led some precincts to extend voting hours. Durham County then tapped the cybersecurity company Protus3 to conduct an investigation into the situation in 2016. The firm concluded that poll workers caused the error for several voters, but it was inconclusive about the other issues and offered ideas for further investigation, leading North Carolina to deem the findings inconclusive.

Full Article: Russian hacking in Durham? DHS looking into machines used in 2016 election - The Chronicle.

North Carolina: Bill to spare DRE voting machines advances | Taft Wireback/Greensboro News & Revord

State legislators approved a bill Wednesday that could delay an estimated $8 million expense for Guilford County by giving its voting machines a temporary reprieve. The state House voted unanimously for HB 19, which would open the door for Guilford, Forsyth, Alamance and other counties to keep using “Direct Record Electronic” voting machines through the next general election. The current deadline for using such machines is December, which Guilford election officials estimate could cost the county about $8 million in the midst of a lean budget year. The new measure does not name Guilford specifically — or any other county — but it gives local officials statewide the option of asking their county election staff to seek a reprieve from the state Board of Elections in Raleigh.

Full Article: Bill to spare Guilford-style voting machines advances | Local News |

North Carolina: State wants to know who owns voting-machine makers | Emery P. Delesio/Associated Press

North Carolina won’t clear voting-machine makers to sell their systems to county elections boards until it learns more about who owns them, the state’s elections board chairman said Friday. The decision comes amid worries of foreign election interference that have grown since special counsel Robert Mueller’s April report into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s report “essentially says everybody should be concerned about this and everybody should be looking harder at a lot of these things to make sure we’re protected as best we can be,” said Robert Cordle, the head of the state elections board. “It’s just a matter of doing our due diligence now to make sure there are no problems.” The state board is giving the three companies that have already passed several rounds of screening until June 21 to disclose anyone holding a 5 percent or greater interest in their company, their parent company or any subsidiaries.

Full Article: North Carolina wants to know who owns voting-machine makers.