Plemmons Student Union’s Price Lake Room to serve as voting site
The North Carolina Supreme Court issued a stay on the lower court Wednesday, shortly after the State Board of Elections unanimously decided the early on-campus voting site for the upcoming election would be the Price Lake Room of Plemmons Student Union.
Ian O’Keefe, one of the plaintiffs who submitted the petition to bring the site to campus, said with the N.C. Supreme Court’s decision, there are two possible outcomes.
“One is that the state board will still keep the early voting site in the student union because they voted on it,” O’Keefe said. “They would have to call another meeting to revoke that site if they were going to get rid of it.”
As of press time, the State Board of Elections had made no move to rescind their decision, however, O’Keefe said they could call in an emergency meeting to do so at any time.
“As of right now, the early voting site is in place beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.,” he said. “But that could change at any moment.”
Kathleen Campbell, Watauga County Board of Elections member, said that the N.C. Supreme Court’s ruling devastates her.
“It’s really wrong and we have no recourse at this point, except that the students need to get out and vote,” Campbell said. “Get everybody to get out and vote, and vote for judges that aren’t going to do these kinds of things.”
It was ruled by Judge Donald Stephens in the N.C. Superior Court last week that it would be unconstitutional to not have an early-voting site on campus.
“The early voting plan submitted by the majority members of the Watauga County Board of Elections was arbitrary and capricious,” according to the court order.
In response to the State Board of Elections’ appeal of the order and request for an emergency stay, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday to reject the request, maintaining an early voting site will be on campus.
Campbell said she is pleased early voting will once again be returned to Appalachian’s campus, but is nervous about the possibility of the State Board of Elections overturning the decision, at the hands of the N.C. Supreme Court.
“I’m still nervous about that, but overall I am very pleased and thrilled that justice was done,” Campbell said.
Campbell has been a strong advocate for the voting site to be in the student union, but fellow Watauga County Board of Elections member Luke
Eggers has been advocating for the McKinney Alumni Center or Legends, she said.
“I think that if you look at what they’re trying to do, it is getting the voting site as far away from campus or far over on one side as possible,” Campbell said. “At least we’ll have an alternative voting place and hopefully the students will get out there and vote. If they don’t, then this will continue.”
O’Keefe said the Court of Appeals’ denial of the emergency stay was good news for Appalachian.
“We suggested the best location and proven location – the student union,” O’Keefe said. “It was a question of whether or not the state board was going to respect the will of the students and community, and put it in the student union or suppress the will of young people.”
Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts addressed the State Board of Elections on Oct. 16, several days after the N.C. Superior Court ruling, listing both the challenges and benefits of Plemmons Student Union and Legends.
Overall, Everts advocated for Plemmons Student Union, and asked the State Board of Elections take her recommendation into consideration.
Kathleen Campbell said Wednesday the possibility of the N.C. Supreme Court taking up the case shadows her excitement in finally getting an on-campus early voting site, something she has been advocating for the past year or so.
“That’s the only outstanding thing that’s keeping me from being ecstatically happy,” she said. I don’t want to get too married to this idea because it could still not happen.”
Story: Nicole Caporaso, Senior News Reporter