Thursday, December 16, 2004

Elections Officials in Gaston Co. Are Booted

The state of North Carolina launched an investigation of the Gaston County Board of Elections back in November because the number of votes cast in half the Gaston County precincts did not match up with the recorded number of voters. Plus there was an allegation that an employee of Diebold was handling certain duties that should have been done by Gaston County B.O.E. officials.

The subsequent two-day interview between the State B.O.E. attorney Don Wright and Gaston County B.O.E. Supervisor Sandra Page did not go well. Page walked out of the interview, more or less mid-question, and went on sick leave from which she never returned. Page has held the supervisor's position since 1990, resigning as chair of the Gaston County Republican Party to take the job.

Yesterday, following a six-hour closed-door meeting of the Gaston B.O.E., Sandra Page resigned as supervisor and the chairman of the Gaston B.O.E. also resigned for failing to supervise the supervisor. (Raleigh News & Observer article this a.m.) The Charlotte Observer today characterizes Page's performance this way: "[Her] response to the problems was dismissive at first. At various points she blamed voters, poll workers and her own staff while insisting that everything would have gone OK if she could have been in all 46 precincts at once. As problems mounted, however, she grew increasingly apologetic and morose, finally walking out of a meeting with investigators from the state Board of Elections on Nov. 23."

According to today's Observer, the lead investigator for the state B.O.E. (Don Wright?) "said last week that Page had failed as a manager and should be replaced."

All of which will do a lot to destroy the public's confidence in the fairness and accuracy of the voting process. Even WITHOUT the added irritant of those Diebold machines.

We are blessed in Watauga with very competent supervision of the local B.O.E. But we still have an issue with those new touch-screen voting machines and hope we don't face a time when we're putting our faith in them for the voting process.

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