Who’s Counting Your Votes?

[Note: At 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 30, a legislative committee witll take up a measure related to this post.]

May 29, 2018 (Raleigh) — In a February 2018, News & Observer guest editorial, NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, Kim Strach proposed a law that would require election officials to find out exactly who is working getting access to our computers that conduct NC’s elections. Specifically, Director Strach suggested a law “to require background checks for those with access to sensitive systems.”

Thanks to the Soros-backed Democracy NC, we now have a copy of that proposed measure. Republican lawmakers showed integrity and would not release a copy of the proposed committee substitute to SB 486, but somebody else leaked it to the “semi-retired” Director Bob Hall.

we now have a copy of the bill that was proposed last week and will be discussed tomorrow morning in committee (9:30 in LOB 643). Click here to see last week’s version.

We have since learned this so-called “progressive” group is lobbying County Directors and Board Members in their attempt to derail the measure.

This post will explain why we think it is a prudent measure and then will respond to Democracy NC’s critique to election officials on a point-by-point basis. Spoiler alert: We agree with DNC on some points, but not on all of them.

Why we favor the measure. 

Any serious job requires a background check. I imagine many employers wish tthey had known their new hire had a previous record. If Russian hacking is to be accomplished on a large scale, it would require insiders to implant malicious software, Having fingerprints of employees who have access to such data systems is a prudent measure. Rather than the measly money that a bank might have, election workers can count votes in such a way that will change the leadership of (still) the most powerful nation in the world. who those worker are.

Democracy NC’s Critique (VIP responses will follow in italics).

** Section 1.(b) and 1.(d) – County boards are required to fingerprint and get a criminal history record for all current and prospective permanent or temporary employees who have “access to the statewide computerized voter registration system.” Unless changed, that vague language could encompass thousands of Early Voting employees and Election Day officials. The cost goes to the counties, and timing issues and backlog at the Dept of  Public Safety are not fully addressed.

Granted the county would have to pay for a $50 fingerprint scanner, but why couldn’t the cost of the background check go to the individual seeking the paid positions?

** Section 3.2.(a) – County boards are required to “give to the State Board, upon request” all documents, including personnel records – including at the request of just 2 of the 9 political appointees who make up the State Board. There is a reference in the second part of this section to a request made pursuant to an investigation under subsection (d) of G.S. 163-741, which is very broad – but the first part of this section does not even say the request must relate to an investigation.

The county gathers certain information and this measure would require them to share it with the state board, upon request. It should be related to an investigation, but the mischief in Washington shows how this can be used for corrupt purposes. DNC’s objections assume the SBEEE would use this information for political purposes, but we’re not talking about FBI files. We’re talking about public records of an applicant’s criminal past.

** Section 3.5 and 3.7.(b) – The definition of “voting system” is changed to exclude, for example, e-poll books developed by the State Board, which means those systems are not subject to the certification standards or the regulations against being networked or connected by internet to polling places, which are spelled out later in the legislation.

No idea what this has to do with the fingerprint and background check provisions, but it looks like a good point to make sure e-poll books were not accidentally excluded from the equipment being discussed. On the other hand, we didn’t think e-poll books were networked. A lot of polling locations do not have wi-fi capability and e-poll books are designed to provide a full database.

** Section 3.7.(a) – This includes a provision that any e-poll book vendor must provide “access” to information in its software not just to an independent escrow agent but also to the State Board and, very odd, to the chairs of political parties in the state. This could be called a poison pill to kill competition. Section 3.8.(a) says legal disputes about e-poll books must be heard in Wake County’s Superior Court, not in the county where the offending e-poll books are used.

Agree with DNC on the first part. The poison pills are something the Legislature has used in the past to allow sing;e-source acquisition fo millions of dollars of election tabulation equipment. On the second part, we disagree with DNC. The Wake Superior Court is the first line of appeal for several types of election complaints and this is serious enough to bring it to Wake County. 

** Section 3.9.(a) – The added language on page 10, lines 22-28, makes it a misdemeanor crime for non-election officials or their authorized agents to “duplicate” any voter registration form – even the blank form. That means a newspaper or civics class workbook could not duplicate the form. This section should just make it a crime to record the birth date, sensitive ID numbers, etc.

No. Duplication and distribution of official ballots should be a crime. There are ways for educators and newspapers to get the point across about filling out ballots without duplicating the entire ballot. This is an easy fraud-prevention measure.

~ jd


You may click here to view last weeks proposed changes to Senate Bill 486.

You may click here to see the Democracy NC lobbying effort to election officials.