Getting out the vote


Mickey Hutchings

Freshman Maggie Behm demonstrating how to fill out a voter registration form. Behm has been apart of several on-campus initiatives to encourage Appalachian students to vote.

Christina Beals, Reporter

After a contentious fight during the 2016 election season, the Plemmons Student Union remained an early voting site for students to be able to cast their vote from campus.

The issue of the Plemmons Student Union being a voting site for students has been argued within the Watauga County Board of Elections as early as 2014.

According to WRAL, back in 2014 Watauga County Elections Board Chairman Luke Eggers asked the Republican state board to either choose from a nightclub close to campus for a voting site or the student alumni center.

Eggers said that enforcing electioneering buffer zones within the student union would be difficult and expressed concern that voters unfamiliar with the school would have trouble navigating its many entrances.

Despite these concerns the Plemmons Student Union was decided upon as the early voting site in 2014.

In 2016, the state board again decided that the Plemmons Student Union could continue to be a voting site for the App State student body.

One of the deciding voices that ultimately placed an early voting site back at the Plemmons Student Union was Watauga County Board of Elections member Stella Anderson.

“The convenience and actual usage of the ASU site for students, faculty, staff and really any registered voter always more than justifies the site,” Anderson said. “This simply reflects the sheer numbers of people on the campus on any given weekday during the early voting period. Voters under the age of 25 constitute a huge percentage of all registered voters in the county. ASU students represent a huge segment of eligible voters in Watauga County.”

Beyond promoting voting rights for the general population, local political organizations such as the Watauga County Democratic Party have been working continuously to counteract voter apathy in any election season.

From phone banking to voter registration, the local North Carolina Democratic Party branch is working year-round to have a continuous societal presence for the sake of battling voter apathy.

Dylan Moore, an organizer with the local North Carolina Democratic Party region, has been involved with the overall party since 2015.

During his time with the local NCDP, Moore and fellow organizers have been at the forefront of maintaining the party’s societal presence.

“Every week, our team here makes thousands of calls. Every weekend, we are out talking to community members and knocking on hundreds of doors. Every day, we are out on campus, registering App State students to vote,” Moore said. “This is a huge, coordinated effort by the Watauga County Democratic Party and the N.C. Democratic Party to make sure we maintain a presence over the country and campus to show that we simply care.”

Regardless of party affiliation, both party branches reach out to the local community, primarily students, to ensure that the public is registered to vote at their current housing location and county.

Regarding the works of the Watauga County Democratic Party, Director of Training and Recruitment Walt Grayson as well as Canvassing Director Andrew Strahan are both two of many party staff members helping in community voter outreach.

“The party really values community-oriented discussions and involvement,” Grayson said. “The party is very involved with different groups and organizations within the community.”

Grayson said that last year, the Watauga County Democratic Party registered 4,357 voters, knocked on over 2,000 doors during canvassing events and called over 58,000 via phone banking.

Walt also said that these three strategies are very common efforts amongst other parties and organizations when attempting to be known and to make a specific social statement within the community.

Regarding volunteering efforts and support, Strahan also said that the party provides a lot of assistance for volunteers within the county.

“Just being at someone’s door will definitely make them aware that you are in the district and that you are involved,” Strahan said.


Story by; Christina Beals, Intern Opinion Writer

Photo; Mickey Hutchings