County Commissioner files lawsuit against Board of Elections member

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Kaitlan Morehouse

County Commissioner Nathan Miller filed a lawsuit against Kathleen Campbell on Aug. 29 concerning her analysis of elections data, which he claims she failed to produce despite his requests.

Campbell is a member of the Watauga County Board of Elections and a former photography professor at Appalachian who has advocated for a polling site on Appalachian’s campus.

Most recently, the county BOE presented their plan to the state BOE in Raleigh. Watauga board members Bill Aceto and Kathleen Campbell disputed their two respective plans, which included the same voting sites except for the addition of one in Campbell’s plan. Luke Eggers, who voted for the majority plan along with Aceto, was not present, according to an Aug. 22 article in The Appalachian.

“I’m trying really hard to try to let these students have a voting place at Appalachian State University,” Campbell said. “My colleagues on the Board of Elections don’t want that.”

Campbell said the lawsuit is being filed over data she presented at a meeting July 23 that compared voter turnout between last November’s municipal election and the primary election.

“What I had found was that there was a big drop off in turnout among people aged 18 to 24 and also minorities,” Campbell said. “When I had that meeting, I gave Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto, my colleagues on the board, a copy of the research I had done. Evidently they gave it to Mr. Miller, and he wrote his public records request asking for me to give him every piece of paper in putting together these numbers. He wanted me to prove it. I had already tried to prove it at the meeting, and I also had citations.”

Miller, a lawyer by trade, said he sent Campbell a public records request for the information July 24.

“I want to see where she got her numbers, I want to see where she got her video she showed at the [Board of Elections] meeting,” Miller said.

Miller also asked for all of Campbell’s emails related to voting from Sept. 1, 2013 to July 23, 2014, among 23 other documents regarding the matter.

Campbell said she was served with the court summons at the last BOE meeting.

“I couldn’t deal with the public records request at the time,” Campbell said. “I had to go to Raleigh for a mandatory training meeting [in August] I was fully intended on doing it.”

Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential.

“I asked for all emails on July 23rd, 2014,” Miller said. “I sued her because she didn’t answer.”

Campbell said she finally responded to Miller on Aug. 18.

Miller said he did receive an email from her with a letter. However, she carbon copied him in an email to Board of Elections Director Jane Anne Hodges asking who was the custodian of the records.

“I’m the one kind of between one of my board members Kathleen Campbell and attorney Nathan Miller,” Hodges said.

Miller said Campbell is the custodian of her own records.

“She thinks it goes to the custodian to the records, and she’s right,” Miller said.

The public records law says that when issued a public records request, a reasonable amount of time is allotted to answer the request.

“The North Carolina rules of civil procedure state that you have to comply with the request in 30 days, and that’s a lawsuit,” Miller said. “I believe I gave her more than the reasonable amount of time.”

Story: Kaitlan Morehouse, Intern News Reporter