The North Carolina Board of Elections voted on the appeal of Boone’s one-stop voting changes at their meeting Tuesday.Approximately 60 people were in the room at the time of the vote when the board voted 4 – 1 against the appeal, sustaining the Watauga County Board of Election’s majority one-stop voting plan.The majority plan, passed in a 2-1 vote by the Watauga County BOE on Aug. 12, allows for one early voting polling place, located in the Commissioner’s Board Room next to the Watauga County Courthouse.
Kathleen Campbell, member of the Watauga County BOE and the appellate who voted against the majority one-stop voting plan, presented her alternative plan to the NCBOE.Campbell proposed a plan to the NCBOE in which the newly constructed Linville Falls room of Plemmons Student Union could be used as a polling place, and the recently finished parking lot used for voters and curbside voting.”If we are to conclude that only one early voting site is adequate, we must also conclude that it must also be located in the Linville Falls room of the student union, where there are more parking spaces, where voters prefer to vote 2-1, where accessibility is easy to everyone,” Campbell said.However, the majority of the NCBOE saw that the number of voters in past municipal elections did not justify two polling places, and that the Commissioner’s Board Room would be able to adequately accommodate voters in the 2013 municipal elections.”In the Watauga situation there just isn’t enough turnout as to early voting for us to justify, from Raleigh, countermanding the decisions of the local board,” said Josh Howard, chairman of the NCBOE.All three members of the Watauga County BOE were in attendance at the meeting to speak on their decisions.Some members of the NCBOE gave the Watauga County BOE advice on how to carry out business .”I would strongly encourage you to be cordial, cooperative and transparent as you consider making decisions that affect the people, whether they are college students, whether they are veterans or whether they are people living in temporary housing,” NCBOE member Joshua Malcom said.Watauga County BOE member Bill Aceto, one of the two members who voted for the majority plan, said that the group plans to work together and go to the state board for suggestions on how to follow through with that advice.Aceto said he does not understand how some people view the one-stop voting plan as voter suppression, especially when looking at voter turnout in municipal elections.”I think it’s good to look at the broader picture,” Aceto said. “Students are important to us, we want them to vote and to continue to vote.”Mollie Clawson, president of the Appalachian’s College Democrats, attended the meeting Tuesday.Clawson said that she felt the minority plan, presented by Campbell, would have helped students participate in the democratic process.Clawson said that the College Democrats are going to make sure students would have access to their right to vote in the upcoming election.Appalachian Student Government President Dylan Russell was also in attendance Tuesday.”While we’re extremely disappointed with our case, we do celebrate with [Elizabeth City State University] and their victory,” Russell said. “That’s one small step for students in North Carolina.”The victory for ECSU came earlier in the meeting when the NCBOE voted to reverse the decision of the Pasquotank Board of Elections made Aug. 20 that stopped ECSU senior Montravius King from running for city council.The unanimous decision allowed King to run for office in Elizabeth City, using his dorm address as his place of residence.”We did think there was a need to protect a student’s right to run for office, and the local board didn’t do that,” Howard said.
Story: STEPHANIE SANSOUCY, News Editor