The business of buying new election machines sounds like a very boring affair – however, right now, in Guilford County and across the state of North Carolina, that ho-hum action has become quite exciting and has generated a flurry of activity.

State legislators are arguing fiercely – both publically and privately – over whether counties should be required to buy new machines this year. Local boards of elections in more than 20 counties in the state are scrambling to chose and purchase new machines. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners just voted unanimously to approve a plea to state legislators to give the county more time in the purchasing process.

Those are just a few of the recent events that have transpired as state legislators work to move every county in the state to voting machines that are supposedly less likely to be hacked by the Russians or tampered with in other ways.

Guilford County’s touchscreen voting machines – and the machines of about 20 other counties in the state – are of a style known as “direct-recording” machines that tabulate the votes electronically off of the touchscreen’s buttons and those machines will no longer be allowed after the end of 2019 unless an extension is granted by the state.

Though they do create a paper record, some people argue that direct-recording machines are more susceptible to hacking than other types of voting machines.

On Friday, August 23, the NC State Board of Elections met and certified three voting machines and support systems that can legally be used in the state. Those are the Clear Ballot ClearVote 1.4, the Election Systems and Software’s EVS and the Hart InterCivic Verity Voting 2.2.

The ClearVote system is, according to its manufacturer, “designed to be the most auditable, efficient and transparent voting system on the market today.” The EVS system is being billed by the maker as one that provides “cutting edge security features” such as state of the art cryptographic modules. The Hart machines are being sold as ones with “flexible and secure” hardware components that “ensure election integrity and support any type of election.”

While the final decision is going to be made in Guilford County by the Guilford County Board of Elections, election officials say they would like to hear from those who will be using the machines.

Like many other county’s that have to make a quick change to new voting machines, Guilford County’s elections department is holding a demonstration of the machines. On Friday, Sept. 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Guilford County Board of Elections will be putting on an exhibit of the contending machines at the Cameron Campus of Guilford Technical Community College in Colfax.

Friday the 13th is generally accepted as a day that brings bad luck, but election officials are encouraging people in the county to come out and check out the new machines as well as offer input on their preferences.