Mayhem in Mayberry?

Mar 11, 2020 (Dobson, NC) The State Board of Elections (SBOE) carried out a county-wide recount yesterday in Surry County in order to remove any doubts about a “coding error” that prevented their ES&S DS 200 scanners from reading the results in five Mt. Airy precincts.

Click the image and start at the -22:50 mark to watch Bell’s glaring omission.

After spending much of yesterday observing the flawless recount and getting the details on what went wrong, I would have dismissed the entire affair as another “nothing-to-see” incident, but for one head-scratcher.


It happened last Friday, two days after the SBOE had already approved the state’s only county-wide recount from the entire election, but SBOE Executive Director Brisson Bell failed to disclose their software-driven recount during her one-hour testimony before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government and failure.

ES&S DS 200 Ballot Scanner failed in 5 precincts because of a “coding error” in the software USB drives programmed by the SBOE.

Instead, she boasted of her agency’s success.

“Several counties indicated that this was the smoothest election they’ve had in their tenure as Election Directors”

– NCSBOE Exec Dir Brisson Bell

When pressed about any “hiccups” during the March 3 primary, she giggled after saying, “I’ll confess that we had three little hiccups [in Bertie, Forsyth, and Warren Counties].”

They sounded minor enough and after explaining them to the committee, she changed the subject and moved on to the certification process.

The only “hiccup” she failed to address was the county-wide recount the SBOE ordered on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, for Surry County

After the meeting, I asked the agency’s Legal Counsel, Katelyn Love about why her boss didn’t mention the incident.

“I can’t control everything she says,” Love snapped, before turning away.

On its face, this was a simple problem of “memory sticks” that were mistakenly programmed and inserted into the DS 200 scanners in five Mt. Airy precincts. As a result, they scanned the ballots on a sixth scanner that was programmed to accept the ballots under “transfer” protocol (similar to early voting machines that can read any ballot in the county).

While absent from the precinct totals, the votes were included in the Transfer totals,

In our view, the SBOE acted properly, as did the County BOE Director Michella Huff and the State even used the opportunity to bone up on their recount procedures.

The sleek and fast DS 450 scanner was a good byproduct of the Surry County recount.

Also, Ms. Bell’s credit, they used the occasion to spring for an ES&E DS450, which scans at a high speed and includes some other built-in efficiencies.

All in all, this was a good experience for everybody . . . except for the fact that Ms. Bell failed to disclose the major impact of the “coding error” to a key legislative oversight committee.

Thus we wonder . . . What else did she not tell the committee about this incident?

~ jd