After a long closed session of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the board’s Thursday, Sept. 5 meeting, the commissioners came out and took unified action.
They sent a strong message to the state’s legislators that Guilford County does not want the state to force the county to buy millions of dollars of new voting machines in a rush job this year.
Guilford County has an ample supply of voting machines in perfectly good working order; however, some groups have expressed concerns over the security of the types of machines used by Guilford County and about 20 other counties in the state – so all of those counties are being forced to change over to a different type of machine. Under existing law, those counties will not be allowed to use their current machines after the end of the year.
However, due to political battles in Raleigh and other considerations, it was only a week ago that the state’s Board of Elections approved the types of machines that Guilford County and the other counties can legally use after the end of 2019.
So, now, buying those machines will be a real rush job if the affected counties are in fact not granted an extension. Earlier this year it seemed clear that an extension to the end of 2020 would be granted – or at least that the NC Board of Elections would be given the right to grant extensions. However, an effort led by Democrats in the state legislature – including Democrats who represent Guilford County at the state level – would kill any deadline extension.
At the Sept. 5 meeting, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to reaffirm a position it took earlier in the year: that an extension for voting machine purchases should be granted.
The county commissioners and the local representatives in the NC General Assembly usually get along swimmingly – however, in this case, the commissioners could not disagree more with those legislators who are fighting against the extension.
Some in the local delegation, such as State Rep. Jon Hardister, have been fighting long and hard to see that Guilford County and the other counties get an extension, but it’s starting to look now like that won’t happen. Instead, the county will have to spend $7 million to $8 million on new machines and get them up and running in a mad dash fashion.
While those advocating for the immediate change voting in machines express concern over the security of the current machines that have been working well in Guilford County for a decade and a half with no security issues coming to light – it appears that they have no similar concern regarding the security risks of a fifth of the counties in the state being required to implement new machines in a major rush job without sufficient time to vet, buy and test the machines or to train county staff and election volunteers in the operation of those machines.