‘There’s no winging it’: Meck Co. Board of Elections shows the preparation process for the primary

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — With North Carolina’s Primary just days away, election officials invited Channel 9′s Joe Bruno to get an inside look at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.

Kristin Mavromatis with the Mecklenburg County BOE shows how they prepare the elections equipment and create ballots.

“I feel with what is going on with people who are uncomfortable is they don’t know the process behind the scenes,” Mavromatis said.

She walked Bruno through the process when candidates file to run for office and sign the notice of candidacy. The information is then imported into this software called Electionware.

“That’s how we can be confident that we spelled the name the way they wanted it to spelled,” she said.

The software workers will then create the ballot. They will also set the passwords to turn the voting equipment on. When everything is ready, the data is burned onto a flash drive. The whole process is called coding.

“It is not what the IT word would define that, that is us creating our ballot,” Mavromatis said.

To prepare the machines for voting, you need a special key. Once they are booted up, the first step is to put a separate flash drive -- provided by the voting machine company -- into the device. This contains security information.

“They are like anything in life, you get some that will take forever,” Mavromatis said. “It is putting a time and date for what the election is and it is erasing everything off from previous elections.”

A password is then entered and the next screen verifies the election and date. Once you hit accept, it erases the old data to get ready for the new information. When the all clear is given, the security flash drive is removed and in goes the second USB they prepped with the actual race information and ballots.

“I have to type in the election code. Once I do that, I hit accept,” Mavromatis said.

Before people cast their ballots, election workers test to make sure machines are picking up the votes correctly. They do this by marking their ballots in a pattern and confirming it’s read the same way.

“You do that on purpose that way you can easily see the pattern to know if there is a problem,” she said.

The county prepares the tabulator -- the vote counting machine -- the same way, with two separate flash drives. One with security data and the other with the election information.

From the computer used for programming to the actual voting machines, nothing is connected to the internet.

“There’s no winging it in elections there’s tons of preparation that goes in to making sure election day is perfect,” Mavromatis said.

While testing and programming can get repetitive, they say it is imperative they get it right.

(WATCH BELOW: PART 1 -- The Political Beat with Channel 9′s Joe Bruno (May 1, 2022)