Model North Carolina State Board of Elections
Voting Systems Vendor Code of Ethics
As appointed officials and public employees who serve as the guardians of the electoral system of the State of North Carolina, members of the State Board of Elections, county and municipal boards of elections, and employees of the State, county and municipal boards of elections hold the public’s trust and confidence. It is necessary to adhere to the highest ethical standards and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or a conflict of interest which may undermine the public interest or compromise the public’s trust.
This Code describes the kinds of activities and situations which all State Board of Elections members and employees, county and municipal boards of elections members and employees, and voting system vendors must avoid. This Code supplements the North Carolina General Statutes, the United States Code, any valid federal, state, county, or municipal law, rule, regulation, or ordinance that might apply, and any rules of professional conduct that might apply to a professional covered by this Code. It applies to all members and employees of the State, county and municipal boards of elections, as well as voting system vendors doing business with, or seeking to do business with, the State Board of Elections or any county board of elections.
1. For purposes of this Code of Ethics:
Members and employees shall perform their official duties in a manner to promote the best interests of the public. To help ensure the proper performance of their duties, the following rules of conduct are adopted.
(1) A member or employee shall not knowingly use his or her position in any manner which will result in financial benefit, direct or indirect, to the member or employee, their family, or an individual with whom or business, organization, or group with which they are associated, where that benefit comes directly or indirectly from a vendor. This provision shall not apply to financial and other benefits (a) derived by a member or employee that he or she would enjoy to an extent no greater than that which other citizens of North Carolina would or could enjoy, (b) rightfully gained by a member or employee pursuant to the proper performance of his or her official duties or employment, or (c) that are so remote, tenuous, insignificant, or speculative that a reasonable person would conclude under the circumstances that the member’s and employee’s ability to protect the public interest and perform his or her official duties would not be compromised.
(2) A member or employee shall not, directly or indirectly, knowingly ask, accept, demand, exact, solicit, seek, assign, receive, or agree to receive personal financial gain, gifts, favors, services, employment, offers of employment, or anything of value for himself or herself, from a vendor, directly or indirectly, in return for being influenced in the discharge of his or her official responsibilities, other than that which is received by the member or employee for acting in his or her official capacity. This includes the provision of food, drink, and entertainment by a vendor to a member or employee except in the context set out in (3) below.
(3) This Code is not intended to prevent the gift/payment and receipt by members and employees of honorariums for participating in meetings, reimbursement of reasonable actual expenses associated with attending a meeting, advertising items or souvenirs of nominal value, or meals/ entertainment/social activities available to all members of the professional, governmental, or non-profit organization attending a meeting/function of the organization where a vendor has made a financial contribution to said organization. This Code is not intended to prevent any vendor or supplier of voting systems and election related products from making donations to professional, governmental, or non-profit organizations or to defray meeting/function expenses of such organizations where members and employees are members of such organizations. Nor is it intended to prevent members and employees who are members of such professional, governmental, or non-profit organizations from participation in all scheduled meeting/functions available to all members of the organization. This subsection is intended to reflect the policy of the State of North Carolina as to the interplay of vendors, members, employees, and organizations as set out in G.S. § 133-32 that applies to donations to and meetings/functions of professional organizations.
(4) A member or employee shall not use or disclose information gained in the course of, or by reason of, his or her official responsibilities in a way that would affect a personal financial interest of the member or employee, a member of their family, or a person with whom or vendor, business, organization, or group with which the member or employee is associated. Nor shall the employee or member use such information to unfairly harm the interest of one vendor to the advantage of another vendor. A member or employee shall not improperly use or disclose any information deemed confidential by North Carolina law and therefore not a public record.
(5) Employees should not communicate as to the products of a vendor with vendors and vendors should not communicate with employees as to their products unless such employees have been authorized by a board of elections or their designee to have such communications. Other than those employees designated, there should be no other employees dealing or communicating with vendors as to their products. A list of those employees so designated shall be available to the public and all interested vendors. Nor should vendors, once informed of designated employees, contact or attempt to contact other employees to discuss their products. General communication between vendors and non-designated employees, not specific to a sale or lease of vendor’s product, may be allowed when needed for election administration purposes in the use of previously acquired products of the vendor. All communications initiated by a vendor as to products of the vendor or another vendor intended for a member(s) of the State Board of Elections shall be directed to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections who shall forward the communication to the intended member(s).
(6) During any period where a vendor has a pending certification of voting equipment or a Request for Proposal (RFP) is before the State Board of Elections, a vendor shall not have communication with any employee of the State Board of Elections or a county board of elections as to the product subject to certification or a pending RFP except with the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, the Deputy Director of Administration of the State Board of Elections, and/or any other person or organization authorized by the Executive Director. Further, during such a period of pending certification or a pending RFP, no employee of the State or county board of elections, shall participate in any sponsored event by the vendor with the pending certification or RFP, except for events designed to educate members and employees as to the use of previously purchased equipment, user group meetings where there is communication between vendors and employees as to matters pertaining to the use of previously purchased voting equipment, and events conducted at meetings of professional, governmental, or non-profit organizations that are open to all persons attending as discussed in (3) above. However, at these excepted meetings the vendors shall not discuss issues as to any pending certification or RFP. All communications initiated by a vendor as to products of the vendor or another vendor intended for member(s) of the State Board of Elections shall be directed to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections who shall forward the communication to the intended member(s).
1. Members or employees shall not accept employment from or provide services for any vendor of voting systems or election-related products or any private or public entity, whether compensated or not, when that employment or service is in direct conflict with their official duties, when that employment or service may tend to impair their objectivity or independent judgment, or in the judgment of their supervisor or fellow board members it gives the appearance of possible impropriety. Members and employees are required to report to their supervisor or fellow board members any family member employed by a vendor doing business with any board of elections.
2. Members and employees must not circulate resumes or seek employment with vendors until an employee’s employment ceases for a minimum of six (6) months or there has been a lapse of six (6) months since a member has served on a board of elections. If an employee is solicited for potential employment by a vendor, that solicitation must be disclosed immediately to that employee’s board or in the case of a State Board of Elections employee to the Executive Director. Reports of solicitation of the members of the State Board of Elections or county boards or the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections shall be made to the State Board of Elections.
Persons who have a complaint about an alleged violation of this Code by a vendor, county member, or a State Board member or employee, other than the Executive Director (in which case the complaint should be addressed to the Chairman of the State Board of Elections at an address that can be obtained from the State Board office), should prepare a memorandum/letter describing the incident(s) and forward it to:
North Carolina State Board of Elections
P.O. Box 27255
Raleigh, N.C. 27611-7255
Persons who have a complaint about an alleged violation of this Code by a county employee should prepare a memorandum/letter describing the incident(s) and forward it to the chairman of the county board of elections. The county board shall forward a copy of the complaint to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections and shall keep the Executive Director informed of all developments in the matter.
Allegations regarding county or board members violating this Code shall be handled by the State Board of Elections. The failure of any member to comply with this Code is hereby deemed to be negligent performance of duties as set forth in GS §163-22 (c) and may subject the county or municipal member to removal by the State Board of Elections.
An alleged violation(s) by vendors of this Code made by complaint or established as a result of the investigation of allegations against members or employees shall be handled by the State Board of Elections, which shall determine the validity of the allegations and the appropriate action to take.
With regard to alleged violation of this Code by a member of the State Board of Elections, the Executive Director, upon receiving a complaint containing such allegations, shall immediately forward the same to the Chairman of the State Board of Elections, or the Secretary of the State Board of Elections if the allegation is about the Chairman. All State Board members shall be promptly notified of such allegations. The State Board of Elections shall determine the validity of the allegations and take action they deem appropriate.
The provisions within this Code are hereby deemed to be written work rules. The failure of any employee to comply with this Code shall be a violation of a written work rule, thereby permitting disciplinary action as allowed by North Carolina law or board of elections employment policy and procedures, including, but not requiring, termination from employment. The Executive Director of the State Board of Elections shall make the initial determination of violation of this Code and the manner in which offending state employees shall be disciplined, and the employee shall have the right to appeal that decision to the State Board of Elections who shall issue a final decision. Allegations regarding the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections shall be handled by the State Board of Elections. For county or municipal employees, the county board of elections shall determine if violations of this Code occurred and what disciplinary action shall be taken. The decision of the county board shall be final as to county employees, except that any offending county or employee who also serves as the county director of elections, shall have the right to appeal the decision of the county board to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections for a final decision.
Adopted October 21, 2005