Board of Elections denies petition to extend early voting hours

Chelsey Fisher

Sophomore political science major Ian O’Keefe started a petition to extend early voting hours after Hurricane Sandy caused poor voter turnout last Monday. That day, 138 people voted, the lowest of any day during early voting.  

Despite the request, the Board of Elections did not extend early voting hours.

“We received more than that in a single hour on multiple days,” O’Keefe said, “After seeing the drastic voter decrease, I contacted the Watauga County Board of Elections and spoke with them about extending the hours. I was later told the hours were not extended because of the single vote of the sole republican on the Board of Elections.”

Stacy Eggers IV is the only republican on the Board of Elections.

O’Keefe said Eggers “single-handedly refused to extend early voting hours,” in the petition.

“It’s amazing to think that I have such authority, but… that is simply not true,” Eggers said.

The Board of Elections is a three-member, non-partisan board appointed by the governor. There is a board in every county in North Carolina, each made up of two democrats and a republican, since the governor’s party typically gets a majority, Eggers said.

The one-stop implementation plan was decided in June. The plan outlines parameters for every aspect of the voting process, from early voting and election day hours and locations to site security.

The change didn’t seem warranted since there were numerous other days to vote, Eggers said.

“It’s beyond me why folks would want to come in and change a plan that everyone’s known has been in existence for the last four months,” Eggers said. “Stella Anderson and Rusty Henson are the two Democrats on the Board.  They voted to change the early voting plan and I voted against the change.  The State Board affirmed the decision not to change the early voting plan for Watauga County.”

No hours were added from the original plan, but Eggers said that this move was in no way anti-student.

Eggers is an Appalachian alumnus and voted on campus while he was a student, he said.

“I couldn’t imagine not having an early voting location on campus,” Eggers said. “I think it’s incredibly important to the system.”

Jesse Presnell, the third vice chair for the Watauga County Democratic Party, signed the petition.

“I signed the petition because I had watched the numbers of people voting go down dramatically during the snow storm,” Presnell said. “Clearly, many people wanted to vote early, and clearly, their ability to vote early was adversely impacted by the blizzard in Watauga County.”

The petition’s goal was to gain 500 signatures, but only had 405 as of Monday.


Story: JOSHUA FARMER, Senior News Reporter