NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In 2018 a new law decertified direct record electronic voting systems (DRE), a piece of equipment New Hanover County has utilized for elections in the past.
These voting systems do not record votes on paper ballots and according to previous reporting, “Nationwide, intelligence leaders have raised concerns that electronic voting systems lacking paper voting records could become vulnerable to cyberattacks.”
The law, SL 2018-13, decertified DRE units as viable voting devices in North Carolina. New Hanover has more than 100 DRE units along with some other vote recording devices (like optical scan units), but the New Hanover County Board of Elections is hoping to replace all of its voting units.
“Although County Boards of Elections in North Carolina are required to replace DRE voting systems only, the New Hanover County Board of Elections requested a full voting system replacement for FY 19/20. The current voting equipment inventory maintained by the New Hanover County Board of Elections was purchased in 2006 … and has exceeded the projected end of life,” according to the New Hanover County.
But new voting equipment does not come cheap, the New Hanover County Board of Elections approved nearly $1 million in this year’s budget for the expenditure. The Board of Elections is not the only party involved in the process though, County Commissioners must approve and adopt a voting system that is certified by the state.
The Board of Elections witnessed demonstrations for two voting systems approved by the state, ES&S and Hart InterCivic machines.
Brunswick County recently approved the purchase of machines from Hart (although there was much hesitation on that decision).
New Hanover County appears to be going with ES&S purchasing 60 DS200 Precinct Tabulator units; 60 ExpressVote Ballot Marking Devices; 20 Ballot on Demand Printing Systems; and one DS850 High-Speed Digital Image Scanner.
The Board of County Commissioners will vote on the new equipment purchase on Dec. 16.