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Elections board hears challenge to Forsyth County election security on Wednesday in Winston-Salem

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Forsyth County Board of Elections

Forsyth County Board of Elections member Adam Draper (from left), elections director Tim Tsujii and board member Alfred Harvey process ballots during a board meeting on Friday in Winston-Salem.

A meeting Wednesday afternoon will determine whether officials hold a hearing on a claim that election security was compromised here on Nov. 8 when election workers used an administrative code to shut down voting tabulators after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m.

The 2 p.m. hearing will take place on the third floor of the Forsyth County Government Center at 201 N. Chestnut St.

Last Friday, Tim Tsujii, the director of elections here, explained that on Nov. 8, the voting machines for all 108 precincts were mistakenly set up to require the entry of an administrative code before they could be shut down and deliver the election results at the end of voting.

Ordinarily, the machines are set so that poll workers can shut down the machines without entering a code. After delays that were described as lasting up to 30 or 45 minutes, election workers were given the administrative code and were able to shut down the voting machines.

One thing that has the protesters concerned is that the code the workers used to shut down the machine also gave poll workers access to some administrative functions, and that the workers don’t ordinarily have access to the code.

According to the protest, “it is unknown, but certainly plausible, that during the time the machines should have been shut down, but weren’t, that unauthorized ballots were entered, other data was tampered with or some other incident occurred (possibly including electronic access) that could affect the outcome of the election.”

The protest was filed by four people including Ken Raymond, who chairs the Forsyth County Republican Party, although Raymond’s name was not listed on the public notice of the Wednesday meeting that will decide the fate of the protest. Tsujii said that’s because Raymond did not sign one of the documents in the protest materials.

Tsujii has not responded directly to the protest, which was filed on Friday during a meeting of the elections board.

Tsujii did talk on Friday about the error made in setting up the voting machines as the board canvassed the election. Tsujii said the administrative code would not allow someone to change election results, although one of the administrative options was to clear all data from the machine.

That obviously didn’t happen, because election officials reported returns from all precincts, and during the canvass said that the number of forms signed by voters as they came to vote almost exactly matched the number of votes cast. (The number was off slightly because some people walk out with the forms).

Those filing the protest say they want a “full forensic examination” of all 108 tabulators and other election records. They also want a full hand recount of the ballots here.

Two randomly selected precincts were counted by hand after the election as part of procedures the state uses to make sure that voting equipment produces an accurate count. Those hand counts showed no difference between the ballots cast and the totals determined by the machines.

If the elections board on Wednesday finds probable cause that the election results were compromised in a way that could affect the election outcome, it will then schedule a full hearing to take testimony.

If the local board finds no probable cause, the protesters can appeal to the state elections board.

336-727-7369

@wyoungWSJ

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