Plenty of political junkies and policy watchers like me around the state have been slightly distraught that the campaign reporting search on the N.C. State Board of Elections website is down, and has been down most of the day.
Saturday update: The website appears to be back up and running this morning.
For those of you that don’t use use these publicly available records often, this is where political campaigns have to report what they’ve been spending, and who’s been giving them money. And, with four days before the May 8 primary and the first-quarter reports just passed in last week, it’s not exactly an opportune time for the site to take a vacation.
I wish I could tell you when, and when it was back up, but wasn’t able to get immediate answers to my questions from the staff at the N.C. State Board of Elections.
Update: Kim Strach, the head of campaign finance division at the State Board of Elections called to update us, and the news wasn’t very good.
There’s a hardware issue with the state information technology system that kicked the elections data offline, Strach said. The data people working on the issue couldn’t give an estimate of when it’ll be online.
And Strach sounded plenty frustrated that everything seemed to go “poof” right when the demand is highest for election records.
“It’s what we’re here for, for public disclosure of these records,” she said.
If people have specific requests, they can call the campaign division at (919) 733-7371 or email Strach at firstname.lastname@example.org and elections board staff can provide reports.
The board had planned to release a data search feature that would let users easily comb through all the pro-Amendment One or anti-Amendment One groups that have spent or given money on the highly divisive Amendment seeking to ban gay marriage and civil unions in the state.
But then the website decided not to cooperate, Strach said.
Staff answering the phones at the board say that information technology is working to get the site back up, but didn’t have an estimate of when it is.
I’ve got calls in to some of the top staff at the elections board to find out precisely what happened, and will update this post when I found out.
Here’s a link to the website, if anybody gets it working or has more insight on what’s going on, let us know.
Until then, it may be time to start doing our watchdog equivalent of a rain dance to try and revive the website.
And keep your fingers crossed so these computer glitches don’t come back to haunt us next Tuesday, as primary election results are rolling in.