When you first arrive to the new “Does My Vote Count?” page, you will see the results of our first project – a public request for a list of all incidents, reports, and problems documented by the local county boards of election during the May 8th 2012 Primary Election. We also requested a list of all Provisional voters for each county.
Our goal was to see what really happens in elections and we had to contact all 100 counties because the Don Wright, the State Board of Elections General Counsel informed Civitas that “This agency does not require county boards to send precinct incident reports to us unless it is requested or becomes relevant as to an election protest. Requests for county incident reports should be directed to the county board of elections.”
Knowing what we did about the election process – a Public Records request was necessary. NCGS 132-1(b) states, “(t)he public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law.”
We were specific in our request, asking for the documents electronically, knowing that this was the way we could receive everything we wanted without cost. We soon found out that this process would take perseverance. And, it didn’t take long to realize that we needed to keep detailed notes of our communications with the counties – as a result, we added this spreadsheet- Board of Elections Incident Report Correspondence to our project and also included a transparency grade to illustrate a county’s willingness to cooperate with our request. If we had not heard from a director after 4 contacts we then contact the county attorney. In all three cases where the county attorney was contacted, the county immediately complied with our request.
In the end all 100 counties cooperated. It is interesting to note and hard to believe that some counties answered that “they had no incidents.” Even Wake County reported only 8 problems in an election where 248,681 people voted. We would like to hear from you if you experience problems voting during the May 8 Primary. We may even post your experience on www.nccivitas.org/doesmyvotecount/