RALEIGH – The N.C. State Board of Elections is promising answers as calls grow louder from activists and board members themselves over concerns about the certification of new touch screen elections systems as 2020 elections loom. They’re worried the State skipped steps when certifying three new election systems and that issues with ordering the equipment could imperil counties’ ability to handle 2020.
“[…] Counties around the state are weighing whether to buy those systems to use in the 2020 elections. Frustrated by slow progress at the state level, activists worried about the security of touchscreen systems reached out to county officials responsible for picking and buying new machines, spurring an email Tuesday from the state elections director promising local officials answers next week.
If the issue lingers, it may “throw chaos into the 2020 elections,” said Marilyn Marks, a Charlotte activist who founded the Coalition for Good Governance and has pushed this line of inquiry.
“The lack of response to date is irresponsible, given that the questions have been swirling for at least three weeks,” Marks wrote to state board members and other election officials on Sept. 14. “Obviously, if the legally mandated certification work had been performed, documentation would have been produced weeks ago. […]
Marks questioned whether the state reviewed the source code that runs the new election machines, a requirement laid out in state code. She also said the board failed to test the new systems to the latest standards, as required by the board’s own rules, and relied instead on 15-year-old standards.
“The three voting systems are not properly certified,” Marks said in her Sept. 14 email. “Try as staff might, they will not be able to produce a non-existent North Carolina state level review of the source code or the required security review of the systems.” […]”
So, Governor Cooper’s board of elections leadership appears to have skipped steps in ensuring election systems’ security, thus leaving the State of North Carolina and our elections vulnerable to the very election hacking risks Democrats and others have been clamoring about for years now.
While the machines are used in other states already, the Board didn’t do the work to test the systems themselves as required by law and some experts think the systems they ultimately approved are “wanting when it comes to security.”
“[…] In the Sept. 11 letter from elections experts, University of South Carolina computer science and engineering professor Duncan Buell and his co-signers asked the board to take another look at the new election machines it approved for purchase. Buell said he wrote at Marks’ request, and that he and others are making this argument across the country.
“North Carolina’s a chance to do something right,” he told WRAL News. “Every single one of these voting computers that has been looked at and been opened up has been found seriously wanting when it comes to security.” […]”
The State Board of Elections has certainly had a lot on its plate the last couple of years amid legislative reforms, lawsuits, dissolution by the courts, fraud investigations, and regular special congressional elections. However, they didn’t do themselves any favors by having wholly preventable political scandals from Cooper appointees that resulted in a musical chairs of leadership. Anti-Trump tirades and crude jokes in front of hundreds of people may have distracted the Board from its mission to insure elections integrity.
The Board says it will provide more information at their next meeting Tuesday. In the meantime let’s hope that shoddy standards by bureaucrats don’t end up imperiling smooth elections in 2020.
Read more about the elections concerns here.