New election integrity group formed by former Forest campaign manager

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, a forklift operator loads absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections as preparations for the upcoming election are ongoing in Raleigh, N.C. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows Postal Service districts across the nation are missing the agency’s own standards for on-time delivery as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

RALEIGH — A new organization centering on election integrity has been formed to restore trust in North Carolina’s voting system by holding those systems accountable.

The Election Education Foundation (EEF) was launched on Oct. 5 by Hal Weatherman, the former campaign manager and chief of staff to former North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

“Using technology, the Electoral Education Foundation will monitor all updates to the North Carolina voter file and document vulnerabilities in the system that can be exploited by those who seek to commit fraud. We will routinely publish our results and make concrete policy recommendations for policymakers to address those vulnerabilities,” Weatherman said in a press release. “Our goal is to restore trust in the voting system, by holding the system accountable to the people.”

Weatherman, as a co-founder, will serve as the organization’s president. Joining him on the board of EEF are Danielle Albert, Jamey Falkenbury and Steven Walker. All three are former Forest staffers.

“Our simple goal is to take digital snapshots of the NC Voter File, archive them and track all updates with an eye towards movement with the highest correlation to fraud. All findings will be regularly published for the general public, policymakers, and election administrators in all 100 NC counties,” the EEF website states.

In an interview, Weatherman told North State Journal that he comes at this project as a seasoned political campaigner.

“I’m concerned about election integrity nationwide and in North Carolina as well,” Weatherman said. “I am coming at this from the perspective as a nearly 30-year political veteran having run 13 to 14 election campaigns, several of which were statewide campaigns.”

Weatherman added that his experience as a campaign manager gives him a “very unique perspective” on election integrity.

“What you are seeing right now is a complete distrust in the system,” said Weatherman. “Polling shows that nationwide and certainly here in North Carolina.” He added that the motto for EEF is “restore trust” in the election system.

In order to restore trust, Weatherman says the system has to be held accountable.

“Our non-profit group is going to monitor all updates the state board of elections makes to the actual voter file itself,” Weatherman explained.

North Carolina’s voter file is large, consisting of over 7.9 million voters. Weatherman said each voter likely has around 500 lines of code associated with their file depending on how long they have been a registered voter in the state.  He said that being able to look at that data is important for campaign managers in terms of possibly contesting an election. Weatherman said that there needs to be a way to shrink that massively large file down and be able to isolate movements within those voter files that have the “highest correlation to potential fraud.”

“We’re going to basically take a digital photo, if you will, of the North Carolina voter file on regular increments,” said Weatherman. “So, if the board of elections updates once a week, we’re going to take a digital snapshot once a week of what that file looks like.”

Weatherman said using technology, EFF will “ping the snapshots of the voter file against each other” in order to isolate the movements that took place within the file. He said his organization will archive all of the updates they collect on the voter file and analyze movements.

“Right now, I can see the public voter file, it’s publicly available, but what I can’t see are any updates that were made and why they were made and when they were made,” said Weatherman. “All of those are crucial pieces of information in an election if you are trying to contest an election or look for voter fraud.”

According to Weatherman, EEF is already working on its first project involving voter vulnerabilities that could be exploited and they hope to publish findings before the end of October. EEF has also filed for 501c(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service.

“We’re already in operation. We’ve raised seed capital to get this off the ground,” said Weatherman. He said they have three employees on contract and that the organization has already raised over $170,000.

When asked about concerns over the handling of absentee ballots, Weatherman said EFF would be “looking very closely” at absentee ballots and all mail-in ballots.

About A.P. Dillon 679 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_