Judge denies Republicans’ temporary restraining order over App State early voting site

RALEIGH — A judge denied a request from two Republican Watauga County Board of Elections members to place a temporary restraining order on the App State early voting site Wednesday. 

Board members Eric Eller and Nancy Owen filed the lawsuit against the North Carolina State Board of Elections Sept. 10 in Wake County. Eller and Owen asked the court to stop the state from adopting the App State early voting site in the Plemmons Student Union and instead use the Holmes Convocation Center. 

Superior Court Judge Rebecca Holt wrote in the decision that the plaintiffs failed to persuade the court Eller and Owens would suffer immediate and irreparable harm in justifying a temporary restraining order. 

“After some consideration, we have decided that proceeding to trial would not be in the best interest of the voters, and they are ultimately our number one priority,” Eller said. “With that said, proceeding to trial could lead to the early voting site being moved to another location after early voting has begun.”

Eller said having the voting site moved while early voting was occurring would be unfair to voters and would cause unnecessary confusion. 

App State spokesperson Megan Hayes said the university will provide information soon about relocating classes held in the Plemmons Student Union to students and faculty affected. 

“The university remains steadfast in its commitment to providing an on-campus voting site, and values its longstanding relationship with the county board of elections,” Hayes said. “We will utilize every option we have available to minimize disruption to their teaching and learning experience and maintain our stringent campus safety standards.”

A spokesperson from the state board has not responded to requests for comment.

Dalton George, a member of the Watauga Voting Rights Task Force, said he was glad the judge “made the right decision” in not granting a temporary restraining order. 

Adam Zebzda, App State Student Government Association director of external affairs, is also happy with the court’s decision. 

“I am pleased to see the court refuse to oppress the public’s will and chose to protect on-campus voting,” Zebzda said. “SGA is ready to assist in any way possible to prepare the Student Union voting site for this year’s election.”

Early voting begins Oct. 15 at six one-stop early voting sites across the county. 

One-stop early voting will run Oct. 15 to Oct. 31. Each voting site will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every weekday. Each Saturday, sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The early voting sites are:

  • App State – Plemmons Student Union – Blue Ridge Ballroom
  • Blowing Rock Town Hall
  • Deep Gap Fire Department
  • High Country Vacation Homes (Foscoe)
  • Western Watauga Community Center
  • Watauga County Administration Building, Commissioners’ Board Room