NC lawmakers deny voting improvement funds - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

NC lawmakers deny voting improvement funds

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RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Smaller North Carolina counties worry what a vote against voting improvement funds will mean for residents.

The House and Senate voted Wednesday to slash hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NC State Election Board.

"The money was in the house version of the budget and the senate version when they passed it but then they went into a conference committee to work out their differences - boom, somehow the money was dropped out," Executive Director Democracy NC Bob Hall said.

Without the money, federal funds to improve voting systems in the state are frozen. The $4 million in federal dollars is part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The act was passed after the infamous "hanging chad" incident in Florida. It was meant to keep that incident from happening again in part by investing in voter machine maintenance, giving more money to train poll workers and expanding early voting sites.

Mecklenburg County voting officials say they budgeted for the loss, as did other larger counties like Gaston.

But director of the Cleveland County Board of Elections, Debra Blanton, says without the funds the county is only able to operate its central voting site. That means three other sites spread throughout the county can't be funded.

Blanton told WBTV that it's not "could" this cause chaos on election day but she says it "will."

"People don't often recognize that all the expenses for opening the precincts, staffing and equipment all the county's responsibility," Hall said.

Senator Andrew Brock who represents Rowan County voted for the funding cut. Brock told WBTV the state is facing tight budget times and it's not just down to nickel and dimeing organizations but it's down to the pennies.

Brock doesn't think this will have as big of impact as some are saying. Instead, he says counties already do a good job and when you break down $4 million over the whole state, counties aren't receiving that much money.

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