Campus denied early voting site

Campus+denied+early+voting+site

Gerrit Van Genderen

Appalachian State University will not have a one-stop voting site for the upcoming May 2014 primary after a Watauga County Board of Elections vote Wednesday.

webready
SGA President Dylan Russell offers his opinion on the changes to voting locations within Watauga County during Wednesday night’s Board of Elections Meeting. Photo by Maggie Cozens | The Appalachian

The meeting for the vote was held at 5 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Board Room of the

Watauga County Administration Building in downtown Boone. Approximately 50 people were in attendance for the meeting.

In a 2-1 vote, the Board of Elections voted to have one-stop sites at the Watauga County Administration Building, the Western Watauga Community Center in Sugar Grove, the

Blowing Rock Town Hall, the Deep Gap Fire Department and the Meat Camp Fire Department.

BOE Chairman Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto, who proposed the plan, were the two members of the board that voted for the sites mentioned, while BOE Member Kathleen Campbell voted against.

The hours of operation for each of the five sites are, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 to April 25 and April 28 to May 2, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3, Aceto said.

Due to a new law passed by the state legislature, the number of scheduled voting hours at all sites for one-stop voting must at least match the amount of voting hours during the 2010 primary and general elections, which was 272 hours.

The plan includes 305 operation hours total.

The Watauga County Administration Building will serve as an alternate site to the county courthouse.

The county courthouse has metal detectors at its entrance, which Aceto said he would like to avoid. Aceto said that the larger size of the administration building and the fact that there is easier access on the ground level were also factors.

Aceto said that the administration building would serve as an acceptable voting site for those who reside in Boone as well as the students of Appalachian because it is accessible on foot and via AppalCART.

Campbell’s countering plan proposed one-stop voting sites at the county courthouse, the Meat Camp Fire Department, the Western Watauga Community Center, the Blowing Rock Town Hall, Appalachian’s Plemmons Student Union and the Boone Town Hall/Police Department.

“As usual I am very disappointed, but not surprised because this is what has been going on since August,” Campbell said. “It is just wrong to take away the voting rights of our fellow citizens, and I do not think there is any way to argue that this does not do just that.”

In an attempt to keep the decision from going to the state board, Campbell suggested that the board come up with a compromise.

“If we can get a sites at the student union, courthouse, Boone Town Council, you can do whatever you want with the rest of the county,” Campbell said to her fellow board members.

The compromise was shot down immediately after Aceto said the board shouldn’t “bargain” on polling places.

Campbell said that this decision poses issues to Appalachian students concerning their desire to vote early due to lack of transportation.

Campbell said she urged students to find ways to vote regardless of the situation at hand.

Also at the meeting, the board passed a resolution for a public comment process starting at Wednesday’s meeting.

Citizens will have up to two minutes to speak to the members of the board and the public comment session will be for a total of 30 minutes at the end of each meeting.

Those who wish to speak during the public comment session must list their name and address on a sign-up sheet, which is provided 15 minutes before the start of the comment period.

Eleven members of the audience spoke to the board during time allotted for public comment including  Student Government Association President Dylan Russell.

Russell questioned where the fairness was in the board’s decision.

Story: Gerrit Van Genderen, News Reporter

Photo: Maggie Cozens, Associate Photo Editor