CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – By the time FOX46 arrived at the warehouse for the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, testing had gone on for three hours on the machines–hundreds that have to be individually tested to make sure they run, run right, and give the correct result.
The testing is happening ahead of Mecklenburg County’s municipal elections.
“For this election, since it’s 28 precincts,” said Kristin Mavromatis with Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. “We’re only going to have under 500 machines out there.”
Mavromatis said there’s nothing really unusual about the testing. As has been done in previous years, there are teams of two–one Democrat and one Republican–that test each machine, which are put through various vote combinations and combinations to make sure the results come out as intended on each machine.
Work can start months ahead of the election in preparation. The individual testing of the equipment happens before the devices themselves are sent to the precincts.
“The rest of the world doesn’t realize that we’ve always done this testing behind the scenes to ensure that how you cast your ballot is how the ballot is counted,” Mavromatis said.
The machines are what everyone sees at the precincts and are the visual representation of democracy in action. The machines are also how nearly everyone votes if they do early or any type of in-person voting.
The process is the same in Mecklenburg County as it is in other counties in North Carolina, which are also testing their equipment in a similar fashion to make sure the voting machines work for their own elections.
However, since November, there have been questions on how local election boards work, and why they work the way they work.
Mavromatis said those questions have come to them, and they have done their best to answer them.
After the November elections, demonstrations were held in various areas across the state, including in Charlotte, by Republican groups who were demanding more transparency on the election. One demonstrator noted then that they thought it was “absurd that we’re still counting votes in North Carolina.”
State elections officials said at the time that “there is no way to know until counties complete post-election processes which individuals voted on Election Day”, and noted the process takes days to complete for the results to become official.
Mavromatis said that process still takes days and is part of the canvas process, which includes numerous audits to make sure the election numbers are correct.
She also noted the media may call an election based on overall math and statistics, before an election is officially called, but said no race is officially called until it has been certified.
Mavromatis also said the audit process on Arizona’s 2020 election, which extended into 20201, has also brought additional questions.
“We need to do a better job of helping people understand the process of what’s already happening in North Carolina as it relates to testing and audits to ensure that your voted is counted as you intended,” said Mavromatis.
Mavromatis said the machines are vetted, tested, and cleared for a particular precinct before the public has a chance to use them on a bi-partisan basis, noting that next month’s municipal election is a preparation for a bigger test coming up.
“Everything we’re doing here is in preparation for 2024,” said Mavromatis.