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An inside look at how the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections keeps voting equipment safe, secure

WCNC Charlotte got an inside look at the warehouse where all the voting equipment is stored as staff gets ready for November.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 2022 General Election is eight weeks away and Tuesday, the North Carolina Network for Fair, Safe and Secure Elections is holding a town hall in Charlotte. It’s a new bipartisan group looking to strengthen democracy to build trust in the entire elections process.

But the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections is working towards the same goal year-round.

WCNC Charlotte's Chloe Leshner got an inside look at the warehouse where all the voting equipment is stored as staff gets ready for November. The warehouse is not open to the public, has several layers of security and is guarded. Keeping all the equipment inside protected is a top priority.

The county must secure, organize and maintain everything needed for Election Day, including 2,400 ballot marking devices and 350 tabulators.

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With the election less than two months away, a dress rehearsal of sorts has started.

“Now is the time we start the logic and accuracy test," Michael Dickerson, the Mecklenburg County Director of Elections said. "We make sure the function of the equipment is working. We make sure that if you turn it on, the battery powers up and everything is ready to go."

Soon, they’ll start loading in the ballots, programming each precinct’s equipment with the correct choices. They’ll then run a scripted test ballot through each device.

“We’ll download those results, and we’ll push it all the way up to the state board,” Dickerson said. “And the state board does it for all 100 counties to make certain that their system is working in conjunction with our systems down here and they’re getting the same results we post locally so that on election night we know everything’s going to run smoothly.”

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Dickerson guarantees each machine leaves the warehouse set back at zero votes inputted and unable to serve any other purpose but marking ballots.

“Ballot marking devices all of those are extremely important for us to keep secure," Dickerson said. "We program them. They’re all programmed and locked with a code so we don’t give the code out for Election Day so nobody can get to it before."

All of the tedious work is to ensure each and every vote is counted exactly as it is intended.

“We’re completely confident this machine will tally your vote and all of this equipment works the way it is supposed to,” Dickerson said.

There will be a town hall in Belmont on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and a virtual town hall hosted by the North Carolina Network for Fair, Safe and Secure Elections on Sept. 19.

The deadline to register to vote for this general election is Oct. 14.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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