You’ve researched the candidates and made your decisions. You head to your polling place, fill out your ballot, and put it in the scanner. But as it gets sucked into the machine, what’s happening to it? If you use a touch-screen voting machine, or assistive technology, what happens when you submit your vote and it flies off into the ether? The latest generation of machines offer more assurance that your vote counts. In what is likely to be the largest overhaul of North Carolina’s voting technology in a decade, counties across the state are preparing to comply with a statewide requirement to phase out voting machines that don’t mark a physical paper ballot by Sept. 1, 2019. Lawmakers and activists say those devices, known as direct-recording electronic voting machines, do not produce a sufficient record. The requirement is one of the surviving provisions of North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has estimated that the upgrades will cost North Carolina counties between $4.9 and $7.7 million. It’s still unclear where that money will come from. The state recently received $10.9 million in funding to upgrade its election systems, but it spent that money on modernizing the Statewide Elections Information Management System that among other things keeps track of voter rolls.
The Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan response to allegations of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, has been gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate, according to reports from Politico and other news outlets. The legislation would allocate $186 million in grants for states to modernize and secure voting machines.
North Carolina elections board hosted four vendors last week for a public demonstration of voting equipment under consideration for certification. That came after satisfactory performance during third-party testing and successful operation during a simulated election.
Representatives of Hart InterCivic, Clear Ballot, Dominion Voting Systems and Election Systems & Software demonstrated systems for designing, printing, marking, scanning and counting ballots. A fifth firm, Unisyn Voting Solutions, was scheduled to participate but dropped out in the days leading up to the demonstration.