Dec-11

Register now to attend an impeachment eve rally near you. Impeach & Remove rallies will occur all around the country the night before the House votes on its Articles of Impeachment, which looks like it will be next week. By registering, you'll get an email with details when the vote is scheduled. Let's fill the streets to let Congress know that we support the rule of law!

Tell the UNC Board of Governors that their Silent Sam Sham is morally reprehensible and puts our communities at risk. NO Payout. No BOG. No Racist UNC. Friday, 12/13, 8:30 AM (note time change), Center for School Leadership Development UNC-CH. This protest is proceeding even though the BOG decided to meet by phone to avoid encountering protesters.

Update Dec 13, from WRAL: "Months after approving three voting machine systems for next year's elections, the State Board of Elections on Friday agreed to allow one of the three vendors to swap out its approved system for a different model." NOT the ending we wanted, AND still worth contacting your county Board of Elections to find out what voting machines they're using in 2020 and let them know you want human-readable paper ballots to restore your confidence in election integrity!

We finally have all our 2020 voting districts defined, for better and worse - what else could happen to affect NC's 2020 election integrity?

via GIPHY

Well... remember the brouhaha a while back about NC's voting machines and the lack of a human-readable paper trail in some counties? That episode included an abrupt 180 on an initial NC State Board of Elections (SBE) decision in late July to delay certifying voting machines in order to create stricter cyber-security requirements and include this requirement, supported Democracy NC, the League of Women Voters, and others: “An electronically assisted marking device or other ballot marking equipment shall produce human readable marks on a paper ballot. A voter must be able to identify his or her intent as evidence by the mark on the ballot.” The Board expressed concern about counties being able to meet new requirements in time for the 2020 elections. THEN in August, the SBE authorized several voting technologies for the 2020 election , "including an updated version of controversial touch-screen devices. In a 3-2 decision, the board approved Election Systems & Software (ES&S), followed by unanimous approval of two other companies, Hart InterCivic and Clear Ballot."

County election boards choose their equipment from the vendor list approved by the SBE, and about one-third of them (including Mecklenburg, the largest) use the touch screen equipment supplied by what was for many years the only company supplying voting equipment to NC, ES&S. These machines print the results on a paper slip like a grocery-store receipt with a barcode that is read and recorded by the machine and also the name selected by the voter. There is no way the voter can verify that the barcode read by the machine corresponds to their printed selection, however.

After all this and over the objections of voting rights/human-readable paper ballot advocates, it looked like things were set for the 2020 elections... UNTIL ES&S notified the SBE last week that well, ducky darn, it turns out they don't have enough of the systems that were certified and tested, so they want to switch out another system and asked that it be fast-tracked and approved instead.

via GIPHY

Yeah, that's what I said. Carolina Public Press broke the story with a painstakingly thorough and well-researched piece by Jordan Wilkie. A few excerpts if you don't have time to digest the whole story:

  • While the N.C. Board of Elections director has recommended going along with the vendor on the substitution, others see the move as a deceptive bait and switch. One Board of Elections member, Stella Anderson, has objected to the situation, thereby forcing the board to convene a special meeting on the issue. She and others have questioned the integrity of the company and suggested both ES&S and board staff have used language that understates the significance of the difference between the two systems and misrepresents federal government requirements for approving such modifications to voting systems.
  • Holding on to the information of an equipment shortage until the last minute, the irregular channel of communicating that information, inaccurately disclosing the location where the machines are manufactured and not notifying the board of problems with the current system until after it was certified are all part of a “clear pattern of actions on the part of ES&S that represent a fundamental lack of candor in the certification process,” Anderson wrote.
  • In turn, the board staff, legal team and Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell recommended that the Board of Elections approve ES&S’ request. But election technology experts say Brinson Bell’s recommendation used technical language that was inaccurate in favor of ES&S’ system.
  • These issues, including the issue of a shortage of equipment, were not independently communicated by ES&S to Mecklenburg County’s Board of Elections, according to Michael Dickerson, that county’s Elections Board director, even though the state’s largest county was considering a contract for the equipment. The lack of communication with state or county boards of election is “highly irregular,” according to voting machine and industry expert Eddie Perez. “I have not encountered another instance where a vendor did not report such implementation challenges in a timely fashion,” Perez told CPP. “It causes one to wonder whether ES&S had some other motive for not reporting the desired change much sooner.”

Sure makes me wonder... could it have anything to do with money?

via GIPHY

What can we do?

In other election-related news:

  • Voter photo ID is again being challenged in a federal courts, this time by the NC NAACP, who requested a preliminary injunction blocking the law for the March 2020 primaries. The Winston-Salem-based US District Court judge hearing the case promises a quick response, as the SBE needs to know by Dec 31 if photo ID will be required to vote.
  • The SBE released a report on election violations that found "over the last five years, North Carolina election officials referred 570 potential voting irregularities to prosecutors, most of them cases where someone voted despite a recent felony conviction. In more than 80 percent of these cases, prosecutors either declined to prosecute or the case is pending, its future unclear as a district attorney weighs its merits. There have been 45 convictions. There are another 40 cases where the suspect was indicted and awaiting prosecution, according to records released this week by the State Board of Elections in what will become an annual report." For context, 4,769,640 votes were cast in the 2016 election, so 570 is a tiny fraction of one percent. So much for claims of widespread voter fraud. The REAL fraud is voter suppression and, oh right, there was that election fraud in NC-09.
  • Noting that most of the reported voting irregularities involved people with felony convictions, there's this report from the N&O (limited free views/month): "More than 70,000 North Carolinians who are prohibited from voting right now would win back their rights if a new lawsuit is successful. Under current state law, people who are convicted of felonies can’t vote until they’ve finished their sentences — and those sentences doesn’t necessarily end once they finish serving their time in prison. They also include any time they spend on probation or parole once they’ve rejoined society. And since many people are only on probation or parole because they can’t afford to pay court fines and fees, advocates say, the state is essentially stopping them from voting just because they’re poor."

Phew, that's it for today, and it's plenty. Let's end with a treat, I'm a sucker for baby pandas!

Tags: (2020 elections, election security, voting rights, NCGA, NCPol)

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