All systems go for Super Tuesday

Published February 27, 2020

By Brad Crone

Despite the worry and the gnashing of teeth, all North Carolina counties replacing outdated touch-screen voting systems are up and running for early voting and seem to have nothing but green lights for Super Tuesday Primary Day.

One of the state’s certified vendors is Election Systems and Software, represented in the state by NC-based PrintElect in New Bern. 

“The replacement of touch-screen voting systems has been executed without any problems.  We have been working with large and small counties alike – getting equipment, testing the equipment, and certifying the equipment.  We are ready for Super Tuesday,” said Mr. Owen Andrews who is President/CEO of PrintElect.

PrintElect and ES&S have been providing election equipment in the state for more than 30 years and PrintElect’s beginnings date back to 1902.

All new certified systems ES&S and PrintElect marketed here are totally compliant with state law and provide a paper ballot for reconciliation and election records,” said Mr. Andrews.  “The newest touchscreen system which several counties chose provide a paper ballot and are just as reliable and functional as the paper-based optical scan systems that most counties have.”

Mr. Andrews said voters across the state need to know that none of the state’s vote tabulators are connected to the internet or utilize modem systems to count ballots or transmit results.  “There can be no outside interference with our tabulators.  They are free of any electronic connection other than a 120-volt power outlet,” added Mr. Andrews.

“North Carolina is a primary state, where ballots are either hand-marked or marked by machine and each ballot will be counted and reported to the local county and the State Board of Elections, so there is no telephone app that will be used to report the vote like we saw attempted in Iowa,” said Mr. Andrews.  “There is a paper ballot for backup and recounts if needed.”

In his 30 plus years of working in elections, Mr. Andrews says the biggest election malfunction he’s ever seen was the 2004 Carteret County melt-down, when one of the early voting touch-screen systems lost nearly 5,000 ballots cast by voters in the county. 

“One of the main reasons, North Carolina selected only one of the three vendors who submitted bids in 2006 was that ES&S agreed to meet all the States security needs. With all 100 counties on the same elections system it helps avoid any type of massive data breach and other issues that we saw in 2004.  There is merit to uniformity when it comes to election equipment,” added Mr. Andrews.

Mr. Andrews said that there were three recently certified vendors that demonstrated their products across the state in 2019 and of the 100 counties, 96 decided to stay with ES&S and PrintElect. “We are humbled by their selections to stay in-state with us and it reinforces our desires to provide the best products, services and support to our home state elections clients”.

State board of election systems reported that ES&S, Clear Ballot Group and Hart Interactive were certified to compete here but only ES&S and Hart provided the necessary bonding and administrative guidelines to sell, service and maintain new election equipment in the state.

With many new systems in place, it looks like all systems are go for Super Tuesday.