Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Republican Party on Friday filed a federal lawsuit over concerns about the operation of touch-screen voting machines.
Party Chairman Tom Fetzer said Thursday that the GOP has received several complaints from voters trying to vote a straight Republican ticket that the touch-screen machines recorded their votes as a straight Democratic ticket.
"These machines have a history of being problematic," he said.
He said he suspects the error occurs when the screen is unsure of what the voter pressed.
"The voter's vote is defaulted to the top line, which in most instances is the Democratic line on the ballot," he said.
Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, said there is no default for the machines, which she said are recalibrated every morning to ensure they're working properly.
Thirty-five counties are using touch-screen machines for early voting, including Mecklenburg and Guilford.
Fetzer didn't say how many complaints have been lodged or where the voters lived.
McLean said the elections board has received "isolated" complaints from New Hanover and Craven counties. Some complaints are from Democrats who said the machines recorded their votes incorrectly for Republicans.
"We don't see a widespread issue," she said.
Fetzer said he wants warnings posted at the polls to alert voters of the potential problem. He also wants poll workers to retain daily printouts of vote totals to compare later with the tabulations provided by the touch-screen machines and to retain records of all complaints about the machines.
"We're not satisfied at all with the State Board of Elections' response to date," he said. "It's an incompetence situation at the State Board of Elections."
Andrew Whalen, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, called Fetzer's allegations of voting improprieties "reckless and absurd."
"I can only assume he is trying to lay a groundwork of excuses for his party’s upcoming electoral failures or attempting to suppress turnout by alleging fraud when there is no evidence of it," Whalen said in a statement.