Raleigh, N.C. — The Republican National Committee has used the same Internet-based voter registration system that conservative groups in North Carolina have pilloried the State Board of Elections for authorizing.
Allpoint Voter Services, a California company, has developed technology that allows prospective voters to fill out registration material using their smartphone or tablet and sign the form on their device's screen. That signature is put to paper by a robotic pen, and the form mailed to the voter's local board of elections.
Conservative groups have raised questions about whether the technology is legal and suggested that members of the state board's staff authorized use of the technology in order to help President Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which used the technology as part of its aggressive effort to register new voters. Allpoint has ties to a Democratic consulting firm.
But during 2012, stories in the technology press noted that college Republican organizations may have used Allpoint's registration system as well. Also, Federal Election Commission records show the RNC paid Allpoint $30,000 in January.
"Yes, we did use those technologies for the 2012 elections," said Kirsten Kukowski, an RNC spokeswoman.
The chairman of the House Election Committee and at least two members of the State Board of Elections have said they question whether the remote pen technology is valid under state law. State board members say they did not know until last week that staff members had authorized use of the system.
However, both Republicans and Democrats registered to vote using Allpoint's service last year, board staffers have said in recent interviews. The idea that Allpoint favored one party over another appears to be blunted by the fact that both the Republican party and Obama's campaign paid the company for its work.
During a recent interview, election workers said they had no idea for which campaigns Allpoint was working.
North Carolina Elections Director Gary Bartlett and several members of his staff visited the House Elections Committee Wednesday. However, neither Chairman David Lewis nor any other committee member asked about Allpoint.
Dallas Woodhouse, state director for Americans for Prosperity in North Carolina, says the RNC's payment makes little difference in his mind.
"This is a major change in election policy, and nobody was told about it," Woodhouse said, adding that he still believed the North Carolina effort was partisan-driven.