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Ahead of Super Tuesday, many NC voters worry they can’t trust election process

As federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies issued a new warning Monday about attempts by foreign actors to influence American elections, many North Carolinians are already concerned about the security and integrity of their ballots. The state dealt with a high-profile voter fraud scandal in 2018, and officials have implemented new measures since then. Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And from the West Coast to the East, and North Carolina, one of the first states where polls will close tomorrow.

    Today, eight federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies issued a joint statement warning Americans that foreign actors continue to influence public sentiment and shape voter perceptions.

    And, as Yamiche Alcindor reports, with early voting already under way, it is the security of the election that is on many voters' minds.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Eager to vote early but worried.

  • Keisha Bryan:

    What is on my mind is more the integrity of the election.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    As she waited to cast her ballot in Cary, North Carolina, Keisha Bryan wondered if people will be able to trust the results of Super Tuesday.

    The small business owner with a 4-year-old daughter is hoping for the best. But, like many, she's concerned about how votes will be counted and about foreign governments interfering in U.S. elections.

  • Keisha Bryan:

    I don't want to get to a situation where people feel like their vote doesn't count or it doesn't matter or they just don't know what to do, and so they stay home.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In this primary, 30 of 100 counties are using new voting machines. Though state officials say everything has been tested, some voters are still on edge.

    According to a recent poll by Meredith College, more than one out of every four voters in North Carolina has little to no confidence in the state's voting process.

  • Karen Brinson Bell:

    We have an obligation to those who don't feel confident.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Karen Brinson Bell oversees election security for the state's Board of Elections.

  • Karen Brinson Bell:

    I have been a chief judge, as we call them, out in the polling place before.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    She acknowledges voter confidence in this state is low.

  • Karen Brinson Bell:

    So, this is one of the tabulators that we use in our state.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Brinson Bell and the board have faced criticism for approving the new voting machines ahead of Tuesday's primary, without much notice to voters.

  • Karen Brinson Bell:

    Because of the time frame that we were under to get these out the door, it was very tight to do voter education on these machines.

    We're having great response from the voters. They're very comfortable with the machines. It's very intuitive. So we don't see an issue.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    For the first time in several decades, every vote in North Carolina will be backed up with a paper ballot.

    But recent election scandals in the state have left voters wary. In 2016, courts struck down the state's voter I.D. law, saying it was aimed at blocking many black residents from voting.

    In 2019, a Republican operative was charged in a ballot fraud scheme. The state Board of Elections said an entire congressional race had been compromised and ordered a special election.

    On top of everything else, in this key 2020 state, misinformation campaigns to sway voters are growing.

  • Man:

    A Facebook page calling itself North Carolina Breaking News is under fire.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    North Carolina Breaking News and other Facebook pages claiming to be local news organizations have been popping up.

    Phil Napoli researches misinformation at Duke University. He says the efforts are similar to what he saw in the run-up to the 2016 primaries.

  • Phil Napoli:

    Oftentimes, you know, there's a linkage between folks who are undecided and folks who are not as well-informed. So they become this very vulnerable population when it comes to elections.

    And if it reaches those vulnerable people, that might be all that needs to happen for it to sway the outcome of an election one way or the other.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Bryan says she's changed her own habits online. But she doesn't think President Trump is doing enough to address misinformation and foreign interference in the 2020 election.

  • Keisha Bryan:

    For the leader of our country not to take that as seriously as I do as a voter, that's definitely something I keep in mind when I go cast my ballot.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Bryan waited over an hour to cast her vote early for Senator Elizabeth Warren. She sees voting as the best way to push back on false information and protect the country.

  • Keisha Bryan:

    I think the answer to building our democracy is not staying at home. I think the answer to building our democracy and putting integrity back into our democracy is more people showing up.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    With Super Tuesday just around the corner, election officials here say they feel confident things will go smoothly when voters show up.

    But combating misinformation and foreign election interference remains top of mind — Judy.

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