Security and accuracy concerns delay decision on new NC voting machines

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – The N.C. State Board of Elections again delayed a decision Monday on choosing what voting systems to approve after voters raised concerns about security and being able to verify that ballots are accurate.

“Voter confidence is really down. And, people want to be able to verify that what they put in that box is what they intended to go,” said board member Jeff Carmon.

Russian interference in elections, cybersecurity and integrity of elections were all issues voters raised to board members as they weigh how to prepare for the 2020 election.

The board’s members voted 3-2 Monday night to hold another meeting at least 15 days from now where they intend to change the requirements to certify election systems to make it so they “shall produce human-readable marks on a ballot.”

Board secretary Stella Anderson, who made the motion to change the requirements, noted the challenge it could pose for counties trying to get ready for the 2020 election. They’re supposed to test out the new equipment during this fall’s municipal elections.

“Our timeline is tight. Our timeline is tight,” she said.

The state legislature passed a law a few years ago that phases out touch-screen voting systems used by about two million voters. That does not include voters in Wake County, who fill out paper ballots.

On Sunday, the board heard from representatives of three companies seeking to be certified: Election Systems and Software, Clear Ballot and Hart Intercivic. Board members also got to see and test out the equipment. In addition, they heard from voters who pushed who advocated for paper ballots that are filled out by hand and easily readable.

Once the state board chooses which voting systems to certify, it’s up to counties to choose from among the available options which to purchase and utilize.

Lynn Bernstein, of Cary, raised concerns about one system that would print out barcodes meant to correspond to a voter’s choices on their ballot.

“And, if there is a barcode hiding that vote, I as a voter can’t correct any discrepancy,” she said.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the Board of Elections, said all the voting systems under consideration meet federal and state requirements. Additionally, staff members said the Department of Homeland Security looked at the ownership of the companies and did not raise any red flags.

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