Wake County tightening data security for Tuesday’s primary election

Wake County News

Wake County is changing the process of transmitting election results after state election officials called attention to ways to improve security.

Gary Sims, director of elections in Wake County, said since the 1990s, unofficial results have been transmitted via modems from polling places.

Beginning with Tuesday’s primary, election staffer will go to the county’s 204 polling places and manually get the results from each machine.

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“Even though we have the confidence that we do have everything secure, it’s just a matter of making sure that everyone feels confident and comfortable with the unofficial results when they come in,” Sims said.

Wake County is one of five counties that would typically “modem-in” their results, according to Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

The other four counties are: Harnett, Wilkes, Surry and Transylvania.

He said the state board notified the counties to stop doing that “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Hand-count audits conducted after the election likely would have caught deviations, and we have no evidence to show that any results transfers were ever intercepted or manipulated,” Gannon said. “Our top priorities at the State Board are ensuring eligible voters can vote and doing everything in our power to safeguard election results from external threats.”

Sims noted the change likely will lead to results being posted online later than what Wake County voters are used to seeing.

“We anticipate receiving all 204 voting machines by 10:30 p.m. and will publish the unofficial results as the machines arrive and their data is retrieved,” Sims wrote in an email.

He said the new process will continue for all future elections.

Sims also noted 69,737 people are not eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary simply because there are no contested primaries where they live.

He said the vast majority of those voters are Republicans. To find out if you’re affected, click here to view your sample ballot. 

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