Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Postman Turned On His Magic Beam: SBOE Gets a Letter

Damon Circosta
The State Board of Elections (SBOE) will meet this Thursday, September 5th. It's not gonna be a quiet meeting (see below for how to hear it). Turns out, there's gonna be plenty pressure on it from a coalition of election security advocates alleging that North Carolina law was not followed in the August 23rd vote of the board to certify the voting equipment of ESandS and two other vendors. The advocates, including Lynn Bernstein of Cary, have written a strongly worded letter to Chair Damon Circosta and to the other four members urging them to revisit that vote.

They say that certain electronic voting equipment isn't safe from hacking. Damon Circosta claims it is. The letter warns that the rights of the people to fair elections isn't being properly shielded, and those rights should come first, and pronto.
"The certification of the voting systems occurred August 23, only 10 days ago. The State Board should immediately revisit the decision before counties and vendors expend resources and make expensive irreversible decisions based on flawed certifications."
To recap recent history: It was a surprise 3-2 SBOE decision on August 23rd, with newly appointed Democratic Chair Circosta joining the two Republican members in opposing a motion made by Democrat Stella Anderson to demand voter-readable proof of ballot choices from electronic machinery. Anderson and fellow Democrat Jeff Carmon were voted down. Virtually every progressive in the state went "Huh?" Some went stronger. It's written up here

Advocates who signed the letter:
Marilyn Marks, Coalition for Good Government, Charlotte
Susan Greenhalgh, National Election Defense Coalition, New York
Lynn Bernstein, Transparent Elections NC, Cary
They ask that the hearing on Thursday not limit public comment and that each speaker -- many of them experts who'll be brought in by the advocate groups listed above -- be given 3 minutes instead of 2.

In its most potentially litigious passage, the letter warns the board that excessive use of closed attorney-client meetings, with the public shut out of the discussion, will be challenged:
"...There is no pending litigation that would justify closed door litigation strategy discussions with the Board’s attorneys. The topics that are so sensitive as to require private sessions are quite limited when it comes to the public’s voting systems. Any attempt to liberally construe the Board’s opportunity to conduct executive sessions without strict compliance with the law will be carefully monitored and subject to legal challenge."
If stuff gets discussed in executive sessions, it'll take a whistle-blower on the inside to demand the sun shine in. No one on the outside of those meetings will know what's being said.

The meeting in Raleigh on Thursday is at 1:00 pm in the Dobbs Building. Anyone can listen by phone, and it's free: Dial: (415) 655-0052 and enter on prompt the Code: 212-929-441.


Brother Doc said...

I hope there will be a re-vote and paper trails be provided for voting machines. Aren't ours in Watauga Co. satisfactory?
I don't know a thing about the new chairman, have never met him, and all I have to go by is his photo but I gotta say, he looks...dim.

Anonymous said...

Ours in Watauga include a marked paper ballot, which can be (and is) tallied by hand against the machine count in random races and precincts to ensure the machines are counting accurately. Our machines are getting old, though, and will need to be replaced at some point.

The real problem is other counties whose election officials are less tech savvy, and who choose a machine by ESandS, which don't provide a human-readable ballot....just one with a bar code, and who knows which candidate THAT represents?!?