Faculty senate chair calls for university support of campus voting site

Moss Brennan, Political Editor

The chair of the App State Faculty Senate is calling on Chancellor Sheri Everts and the App State administration to file an amicus brief to support the Plemmons Student Union one-stop early voting site

“I fully understand you are under intense pressure, and I sympathize with your situation,” Michael Behrent, chair of faculty senate, wrote in a letter to Everts. “But you have shown in the past where your values lie, and I hope that you continue to adhere to these principles by supporting the multiple parties that favor keeping the vote site in Plemmons.”

The call comes after two Republican members of the Watauga County Board of Elections filed a lawsuit Sept. 10 against the state board of elections questioning the legality of the early voting site. 

Behrent requested the university file a brief with Wake Superior Court that establishes the administration recognizes the legal authority of the state board’s decision to use the Blue Ridge Ballroom as the early voting site. 

App State spokesperson Megan Hayes said the university “unequivocally supports on-campus voting” and would not be submitting documentation outside of what it has already shared with local and state elections boards. 

The university submitted documents that show that the university is holding classes in the Blue Ridge Ballroom during the early voting period. 

“Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, the university will provide a voting location on campus and continue working to maximize the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff as well as community members, with the least amount of additional disruption to our faculty and students’ teaching and learning experiences,” Hayes said.

After the members filed the lawsuit, Matthew Dockham, App State director of external affairs and community relations, said that the university supports the use of Holmes Convocation Center for the campus voting site. 

“Because of COVID-19, the university is holding classes every weekday in the Blue Ridge Ballroom in the Plemmons Student Union,” Dockham said. “Voting in this location will displace classes for hundreds of students for 20 days during the fall semester.”

The early voting site would displace roughly 300 students’ classes during the early voting period — Oct. 15 to Oct. 31 —  while the convocation center wouldn’t displace any. 

“We remain committed to providing a voting site on campus, as promoting civic participation is core to our mission of preparing students to be responsible and engaged members of society,” Hayes said.