In reversal, NC board could certify voting vendors this week

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s elections board indicated Tuesday that it could certify suppliers of new voting machines this week while scrapping a tentative plan to require “human-readable” paper ballot records.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections announced a meeting Thursday to consider certifying suppliers, reversing its decision this week to push the process back by at least two weeks. It released an agenda showing it’s likely to rescind a tentative plan to add the new language to requirements for paper records of ballots.

The announcement came one day after the board voted 3-2 to delay certification until later in August so members could consider a proposal to require that voting systems produce “human-readable marks on a paper ballot.”

Some voting-rights activists have expressed concerns that machines from one of the vendors produces a paper ballot record that displays a bar code that’s used to tabulate votes, instead of hand-marked ballots, according to WRAL-TV .

Republican board member David Black had voted in favor of delaying certification to add the language but later reconsidered, according to the board. Chairman Robert Cordle issued a statement saying that Black “misunderstood” the motion “and was not aware it would stop the present certification in its tracks.”

“He did not realize that, so he wants to set that vote aside and move ahead with certification. Some board members believe it’s not fair to try to change the requirements at this late date,” said Cordle, a Democrat who had voted against the motion.

Three private companies are vying for certification to sell new machines to county elections boards.

North Carolina — the country’s ninth largest state by population — is an attractive market for voting equipment because the state has required touchscreen-only systems to be replaced after November with equipment that produces a paper record. The change will affect machines in about a third of the state’s 100 counties.