The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday August 9th

BOE should cut its bloat: N.C. BOE does good work but has become overstaffed

The N.C. Board of Elections employs 65 people to run its day-to-day operations.

This is up exponentially from the 1990s, when there were only six.

The number of employees increased by almost 1,100 percent in fewer than two decades. This is both unnecessary and excessive.

Much of the increase in so-called “elections technicians” was probably due to the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which requires states receiving federal funding for elections to maintain a set of nondiscrimination standards.

However, that does not tell the whole story.

In 2007, the state spent millions of dollars to purchase a computer program designed to help streamline every facet of an election — from tallying results to producing post-election reports — from SOE Software.

On its Web site and in a press release after the purchase, SOE Software promises “limited IT involvement” and “minimal IT interaction.”

It is interesting to note, therefore, that the BOE currently employs more people in its IT division than in its elections administration division.

The BOE should not spend millions on a program that touts its technical efficiency and at the same time have a bloated IT staff.

Even though the BOE does appear to be doing its job well, it is unfortunate that it does so with so many people.

If the competitive politics of the state require a wide range of election workers to curb fraud, so be it.

But such a bloated staff, particularly in the IT department, should be further examined.

It is the duty of the BOE to investigate questionable funding and financing.

Having a large staff can help an agency such as the BOE to monitor elections and politicians closely.

But a major cause of inefficiency — and wasted tax dollars — is when these agencies become too bloated.

There is no reason for taxpayers to subsidize support for an agency that has already spent millions on a program designed to lessen that very need.

There’s a fine balance to be struck.

The BOE should take a step back and examine its own finances.

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