Dec 19, 2022 - News

North Carolina's elections board cries for help

Illustration of a hundred-dollar bill in the shape of a manila folder.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Diminishing state and federal funds have forced North Carolina's state elections board to lay off dozens of employees in the last two years, it said in a letter to the state's congressional delegation Thursday.

Why it matters: The agency is working with fewer people as it faces increasing demands. As demands on the agency have climbed, In the last two years alone, it lost nearly 30 employees that help the agency ensure elections are fair and secure and laws that help it do that are upheld.

  • The letter also comes as the agency is wrapping up an election year in which it received an "unmanageable" number of public records requests — more than triple what it received in 2020.
  • "The challenges in managing statewide elections have not been reduced since 2020; in many ways, they have expanded," ​​state elections director Karen Brinson Bell said in the letter. "North Carolina relies on federal HAVA funds and requires enhanced funding now more than ever."

Driving the news: The letter, obtained by Axios, urges the state's 15 delegates to support the Help America Vote Act Election Security grant's inclusion in a 2023 spending package stalled in the U.S. House.

  • The measure would provide funds that help election administrators guarantee that elections are "secure and reliable," Brinson Bell said.

Context: North Carolina's State Board of Elections is tasked with managing elections, even as the board is "facing increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats," Brinson Bell said.

  • It's also responsible for ensuring candidates and committees comply with campaign finance laws, registering voters and maintaining voter rolls and juggling an increase in public records requests.

By the numbers: As of Dec. 12, the board had received 326 records requests this year, of which at least 50 were filed by individuals who don't live in North Carolina.

  • 229 requests were filed in 2021.
  • Approximately 100 were filed in 2020, the board told Axios.

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