Move to emergency ops center beefs up security for NC elections officials

State officials say securing the vote in this year's elections means moving to a more secure building on election night.

Posted Updated

Joe Fisher
, WRAL multimedia journalist
RALEIGH, N.C. — State officials say securing the vote in this year's elections means moving to a more secure building on election night.

An Elon University Poll released Thursday shows that only two-thirds of North Carolina voters are ready to accept the outcome of the presidential election and that about three-fourths are concerned about violence breaking out after the election.

President Donald Trump has only added to doubts over the election by repeatedly suggesting without any evidence that it would be rife with fraud and that he might not accept the results if he loses to Democrat Joe Biden.

Wake County poll worker Alphonza Shire said he worries about election interference from foreign governments and others.

"They did it with the last presidential run," Shire said.

To boost confidence in North Carolina's results, the State Board of Elections will move Tuesday from its downtown Raleigh offices to the state's Emergency Operations Center. The move not only provides more space for social distancing of the large number of people working on election night, it also provides more security against a potential cyberattack or other threat to the vote count.

The plan to activate the EOC has been in the works for months, officials said, and they had a test run in June during a primary for a congressional race in western North Carolina.

"This is one of the many steps we have taken in recent years to ensure the integrity of the election and to make sure that election and emergency officials are prepared to respond to any problems that arise, such as voting issues, polling place disruptions or cybersecurity threats," elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said in a statement.

On Election Day, federal and state partners will work under one roof, including the North Carolina National Guard's cybersecurity team. The team has been visiting county election boards in recent months, scanning systems for potential weaknesses.

"We'll dig into their network configurations, their server configurations, their computer configurations," Lt. Col. Seth Barun said. "We say, 'This is what, here's what we would do to fix it.'"


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