Waiting is agony on election nights for voters eager to see who won, and now people in Wake and a few other counties who are used to speedy reporting of local results are going to have to sit longer in suspense.
The State Board of Elections told Wake, Harnett and three small elections offices in western North Carolina to stop using modems to transmit vote totals from their tabulators into the state system after the polls close.
In an a atmosphere of heightened election security, modems have been identified as potential hacker targets.
There is no evidence that results were ever intercepted or manipulated, elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said in an email. The elections board asked counties to stop sending results via modem out of "an abundance of caution and in line with best security practices," he wrote.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
"Our top priorities at the State Board are ensuring eligible voters can vote and doing everything in our power to safeguard election results from external threats," Gannon said. "We appreciate the patience of voters and candidates on election night. However, most counties have demonstrated that they can report results in a timely fashion on election night without the use of modems."
On Tuesday and from now on, Wake will be doing what most other counties do — report results after the voting machines are transported from polling places to the elections hub.
"They want it to be uniform with the others," said Gary Sims, Wake County elections director. "We're going to do what we're asked."
Unofficial early voting and absentee results will be reported at 7:30 p.m., when the polls close. The unofficial results from primary day voting will be reported as the machines come in. Wake anticipates having machines from all 204 polling places returned by 10:30 p.m.
The Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has asked the legislature to outlaw voting equipment connections to the internet, telephone lines or modem networks.