Federal elections money for NC sits untouched
Posted February 17, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The federal government has $4 million earmarked for elections operations in North Carolina, but state lawmakers aren't in any hurry to claim it.
States can use the money set aside by the Help America Vote Act to pay for early voting sites, train poll workers and maintain voting machines. North Carolina needs to provide $664,000 in matching funds to access the federal money.
Lawmakers slashed funding to the State Board of Elections by almost 17 percent, to $5 million, last year as part of cuts to balance the budget. Damon Circosta, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, said those cuts make obtaining the federal money more crucial.
"North Carolina is going to have the largest election it's had in its history in 2012, and we need to make sure we have all the resources available," Circosta said Wednesday. "With all these new voters (and) we just had redistricting, there's going to be a whole lot of work to do on election workers' part. We want to make sure they have the resources they need, and it shouldn't cost us that much money to do it."
Wake County Elections Board Chairwoman Aida Doss Havel said the new congressional and legislative voting maps will make poll worker training even more important this year.
"We're going to need training. We're going to need early voting, We're going to need a lot of resources," Havel said. "We have new lines that cut through neighborhoods, cut through precincts. We're looking at as many as 300 different ballot styles in Wake County."
The state has the money needed for the matching funds, but House Elections Committee Chairman David Lewis said lawmakers will probably wait until after the May 8 primary to address the issue.
Lawmakers are scheduled to have a brief special session in April.
"I'm very comfortable that the resources and manpower are in place to have a good and successful primary day election," said Lewis, R-Harnett.