Monkey Business Report: NC’s 2020 voting machines DID have modems.


We’ve been hearing all kinds of talk about election skullduggery.  We heard about the Russians hacking into the system to help the Republicans.  We heard about Democrats cheating to help – um – Democrats.

The North Carolina House Freedom Caucus, and several other election integrity groups, made some allegations over the summer suggesting that the state’s voting machines were equipped with remote-access hardware.  

The Cooper hacks at the state elections board stalled and denied, stalled and denied.  Democrats. and some in the NCGOPe dismissed the modem talk as much ado about nothing.

This week,  the House Freedom Caucus released this:

For months, Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, has stonewalled and denied access to voting equipment, as well as even acknowledge the existence of modems in North Carolina voting machines.

After receiving information that modems were being removed from voting equipment in Watauga County, as well as several other counties, the North Carolina Freedom Caucus made a freedom of information request as well as a request under the North Carolina General Statutes that all documents related to the removal of modems from voting equipment in Watauga County be provided to the Freedom Caucus.

When the State Board of Elections became aware that the Freedom Caucus had this information, Director Brinson Bell issued a press release indicating that all modems were being removed from equipment throughout the state.

“We firmly believe that had the request for the documentation of the removal of modems not been made, Director Brinson Bell would have continued to deny their existence and would have hidden the fact that they were removing the modems from the voting equipment,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Keith Kidwell.[…]

To add to the merriment and hijinks,  here is a release from the Watauga County Board of Elections in Boone:

It has recently come to the attention of the Watauga County Board of Elections that modems were removed from ballot-counting machines used in county elections, the board announced in a Dec. 9 press release.

Before being removed, these modems had never been used. Given the importance of a fair and transparent election process, the board stated it wished, with this announcement, to make relevant information promptly available to the public.

Since 2002, the Board has used M100 ballot scanners to count ballots. The Board voted unanimously to purchase this equipment. The scanners were purchased from Printelect, a North Carolina company

The Board owns 31 M100 ballot scanners. They have been used in every election since their initial purchase.

On Nov. 9, Karen Brinson Bell, the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, hosted a Microsoft Teams meeting with election staff from the six counties that still use M100 ballot scanners. In addition to Watauga, these counties include Graham, Macon, Moore, Montgomery and Swain. Director Bell informed them that Printelect would be undertaking annual preventative maintenance and would remove any modems found in the machines.

What? Moore has modems?  I wonder what our local folks are doing about THAT.


This was the first time that Watauga Director of Elections Matthew Snyder was apprised of the presence of modems in the M100 ballot scanners.

On Nov. 16 Printelect technicians came to Watauga County and removed 29 modems from the M100 ballot scanners.

Director Snyder informed Board members from both parties of these developments.

The Board emphasized in the release that the modems on the M100 ballot scanners have never been used during the tenure of current Board members or current Board staff. Using them would not only require that they be connected to the internet, but would also require software that is not in the Board’s possession. Moreover, modem technology is currently largely outdated. Like current Board staff, current Board members were previously unaware of the presence of modems in the M100 ballot scanners.

The Board also emphasized that the M100 ballot scanners are kept in secure locations. Activation of M100 ballot scanners and most interactions with them typically occur in the presence and under the scrutiny of bipartisan teams. […]