Why haven't HAVA funds been released?

With so many counties cash-strapped as a big election approaches, we need to start asking why haven't the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds been released yet, and what can we do about it?

The first step is to start raising awareness. So please share this video, or start this conversation among your circle of friends, or groups you belong to. I think most average North Carolinians, left, right, center, or whatever else, want to see elections that are fair, that are run smoothly, and that are viewed as having results that are reliable and accurate.

Releasing these funds can help ensure we have trustworthy elections, which is crucial for an effectively run democracy, and help ensure we have adequate early voting sites as well, which is a convenience that I think everyone can appreciate.


Blame the Republicans in the GA...

...and the two Democrats on your County Board of Elections - especially if you live in Wake County.

The GOP is taking their marching orders from ALEC on this one, so your protests there won't do any good.

Go to your County Democratic Party Board meeting. Tell your Board and possibly your County Executive Committee that you want your County Democratic Party to direct the County BOE Election Director to use their membership in the State Association of Election Directors to lobby the General Assembly for release of the HAVA funds. Then attend your County BOE meetings and ask them to do the exact same thing.

Do this especially if you live in Wake County - your county Party needs to remind our 2 BOE members that the CEC appoints them and they do not work in a vacuum. Their refusal to direct the Wake BOE ED to lobby for this money is going to cause voters much misery this year!

The great thing is that even though the GOP controls both the NC House and Senate, the Democratic Party has a majority of members on the county BOE (2 out of 3) and on the SBOE (3 out of 5). So getting those Democrats on your county BOE who are selected for the position by your County Executive Committee is the first thing.

This is important - because some county BOE appointees act like they work for the BOE Election Director and BOE staff, and function as little more than a rubber-stamp for whatever agenda the ED and staff have. I can tell you that is a problem right here in Wake County. The Wake BOE ED won't lobby for release of those HAVA funds even though she's the Legislative Liaison for the NC Association of Election Directors and she's right here with all that wonderful access to our legislators.

The Wake BOE ED has no problem advance her own pet projects without the specific direction of her Board - like lobbying the new Republican majority (including one of her old buddies from Wake County - Senator Richard Stephens who was the former county manager for Wake County) to allow counties to "employ their own qualified technicians" to do the maintenance and repair work on election equipment.

Problem is, the AG's office thinks the language "muddies the waters" and that both the SBOE and the equipment vendor contend that there is still a problem of state and federal machine certification, vendor warranty and protection bond, as well as security that was not addressed by the change in the law. I've asked my BOE members (who I nominated and helped elect to their BOE positions) to sit down and meet with the SBOE, the AG's office, and the vendor before taking any drastic steps that would endanger election integrity, but they refuse to do so. They claim that there are no problems with the warranty - but when asked to elaborate on that - they refuse to do so. They just tell me there are no problems. Yet they make comments about how we ought not to repair or maintain the voting equipment, how it's obsolete, or should be allowed to fail then cannibalized for parts, etc. - which indicate that the Wake BOE and the staff is grossly out of step with the REST of the state when it comes to election integrity and treating our voting equipment.

That's what happens when you let some elected officials become captives of the very staff they are supposed to be in charge of. The staff only gives them information that supports the staff agenda - and fights like hell to prevent the Board members from getting any other information. Going to far as to label as "misinformation" any rebuttal information. And of course under the guise of "transparency", the Board holds meetings where they allow the public to comment on the meeting agenda before they find out any details about the items on the agenda. The staff makes their presentation (aided by days and weeks of informal "chats" about the same topics) and then asks the Board to vote.

Should we tolerate such decisions being made in secret or with little real public input? Should we tolerate our elected or appointed officials telling us (effectively) to go screw ourselves when we ask them to explain the decisions they've made - or if they even did basic due diligence on the information they've been provided when it would be so simple to do so?

Denying the HAVA money to our county and state election boards is part of an overall Republican/ALEC plan to maintain a Republican majority. Screwing with our state's election integrity laws by removing warranty protection and exposing the machines to potential security breaches is another.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

With everything going on, don't forget HAVA!

With all the recent political shake ups, I worry that people might forget about this HAVA issue.

Thanks for being the only responder so far.