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Future election equipment on full display for voting demonstrations

Shawn Phillips, a sales engineer for Hart InterCivic voting equipment, shows Wake County Board of Elections member Lula Harris and others how to use a voting machine. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

The public got a peek Friday at what their voting futures could look like.

The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement hosted a public demonstration of all voting equipment under consideration for certification in North Carolina.

Vendors showed State Board members, county board of elections members and the public how to use their voting equipment and answered questions about the election administration process.

“This is an election software built for people who know elections,” explained Shawn Phillips, a sales engineer for Hart InterCivic voting equipment.

He described his system as transparent and explained step-by-step how to use each piece of equipment.

Wake County Board of Elections member Lula Harris said she thought the demonstrations were interesting and she enjoyed seeing the updated equipment.

“I wanted to see the new equipment to see how it works,” she said.

She added though that county board of elections members would need more time and training to really see which machines were best.

“There’s more ground to cover,” Harris said.

State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement Chairman Andy Penry (center), Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm (left) and member John Lewis (right) listen to a voting equipment demonstration from Dominion Voting Systems. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

State Board Chairman Andy Penry was also in attendance at the demonstrations, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He said he was looking for a voting system that was “practically workable, user friendly and would protect the integrity of the voting system.”

“Obviously we’re trying to protect the security of the voting system,” he said.

He added that it was most important for county board of elections directors to get time with the machines and have their questions answered, since they were the ones on the ground during an election.

Several county directors were with the State Board during their demonstrations and asked a lot of questions.

The State Board will make the final decision about which voting equipment to certify, but Penry said the county directors’ opinions would be considered.

“We’ll see what they have to say, for sure,” he said.

The demonstration fulfills the requirements of Section 3.5.10 of the Elections Systems Certification Program adopted by the State Board in 2017, a released about the event states.

“This is a major step in the process of reviewing new equipment before it is approved for use in North Carolina elections,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board Executive Director.

In addition to Hart InterCivic, the vendors at the demonstration were Clear Ballot, Dominion Voting Systems, Elections Systems & Software and Unisyn.

Connie Keller, the Richmond County Board of Elections Director, said it was helpful for her to see all of the products.

She agreed with Harris that there needed to be more training and said they will have more educational opportunities after the demonstrations.

The State Board has opened a public comments portal through Aug. 10 for anyone who wants to weigh in on the voting equipment. Anyone who wishes to comment may do so here.

Comments also may be mailed to Emily Lippolis, State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, P.O. Box 27255, Raleigh, NC 27611-7255.

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