RALEIGH – Flashy technology is great…when it works. However, some things are best kept simple, especially when it comes to accurately counting votes in hotly contested elections. The case for a paper ballot is being made again by the apparent changing of votes by touch screen voting machines in some North Carolina counties, according to reports from voters.
“Two out of five North Carolina voters live in areas that use touchscreen voting machines. And some people have reported during early voting this year that those machines are changing their votes.
Election officials are quick to say there is no conspiracy to rig elections, nor any evidence of hacking, and that only a very small number of voters have reported having issues.
“It is not widespread,” said Pat Gannon, spokesman for the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, although he said the state doesn’t track the exact number of complaints. “We get a few reports about this in each election.”
Several voters from the Charlotte area reported problems to The News & Observer, and the Greensboro News & Record reported on voters in Guilford County who said their votes were changed.
“We are concerned about going into Election Day,” said Reggie Weaver, civic engagement coordinator with Common Cause North Carolina. Weaver spoke on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.
Older machines are to blame in some cases, election officials say, and voters simply have pressed the wrong button in others. Either way, it has drawn attention to the fact that people who use those machines need to double-check their ballots before submitting them to be counted.
About 40 percent of the state’s registered voters live in a county that uses touchscreen machines for some or all voting, a News & Observer analysis of elections data found. They’re not used in the Triangle but are in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and many smaller cities. […]”
So, if you’re using a touch screen voting system, you might want to double or triple check your selections before submitting.
The glitches also bring into focus the company that sells and services nearly every piece of election equipment in North Carolina: Owens G. Dunn Company. This company and it’s subsidiaries have monopolies on ballot printing (PrintElect), voting machines, and equipment servicing (ES&S) throughout North Carolina and many other states. They charge higher prices than their would-be competition, but have been knee-deep in cronyism for so long that state government runs protection for them.
Last year some lawmaking friends of the companies’ owners slipped a provision into a bill that mandated a voting services vendor have at least a $10 million secured bond in order qualify for the state’s contract. That move was all about keeping competition for the contract at bay, being that Owens G. Dunn was the only company that could afford such a thing. It’s one example of bigger businesses embracing onerous regulations, because they can handle it, and their fledgling competitors cannot.
But back to the issue at hand; there are so many races, large and small, that will be down to the wire across the state that it behooves election officials and voters themselves to make sure a flashy piece of technology isn’t changing the votes you so eagerly cast.
Read more here.