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Voting issues surface in 2014 general election

The+Appalachian+Online
The Appalachian Online

Voting problems have been reported throughout the country regarding the 2014 general election, including the state of North Carolina.
Ian O’Keefe, coordinated campaign manager of the Watauga Democratic Party, said he knew of a lot of people who had trouble voting and he also noticed a lot of confusion.

“On Election Day, everyone had to go [to] their assigned precinct and a lot of people thought you could go to any precinct you like,” he said. “With the election law changes that the Republicans put in place the beginning of this year put into effect, no voter can vote out of precinct.”

Votes that are submitted in the wrong precinct are essentially thrown out.

“There’s a lot of confusion about that process, and I think that it hurt students in this election and voters in general in this election, there was no need for it,” O’Keefe said. “I think it confused voters and made it more difficult for them to vote.”

O’Keefe, along with other members of the Watauga County Democratic Party, shuttled Appalachian State University students and community members to their designated polling places if they did not have other available transportation. He estimates the party transported roughly 80 voters.

“A lot of people thought that there was still voting at the student union, which I think was unfortunate that they were still confused that early voting wasn’t going on through the election,” he said. “A lot of students live in a lot of different precincts.”

O’Keefe also noticed a problem with “transfer voting,” which he said happens when people move and change addresses.

Craig Stewart, a senior geology major, said when he went to vote, he, along with five to seven others, experienced difficulty.

“Every single person in the room was turned down,” he said. “Overall, I spent over an hour trying to vote and was denied. The system was working against me.”

Stewart said because of the Raleigh address on his license, he was turned down, although he registered earlier this year in Watauga County.

“A common misconception was that I had to show my I.D – that was not the issue,” he said. “The issue was having two addresses under my name, something a lot of students have.”

Stewart said he was previously aware of the voting laws, but did not realize how constricting they can be.

According to a report from www.msnbc.com on the voting troubles people encountered across the country, it was reported that voters faced trouble with voting laws that aren’t even in place yet.

“In Boone, near Appalachian State University, poll monitors reported that some people were yelling at voters that they needed ID to vote,” according to the site. “In fact, the state’s voter ID provision doesn’t take effect until 2016. And according to local news reports, two precincts in Cumberland County received the wrong thumb drives for the voting machines that were sent.”

According to www.thinkprogress.org, other North Carolina voters had trouble. Voters in Charlotte showed up to their polling place – a neighborhood library – only to find the state Board of Elections had closed it.

“The library was a popular site for early voting site last week, but the state board of elections decided to shut it down for Tuesday,” according to the site. “Several elderly and disabled voters had shown up there, only to be told that it was not a polling place.”

Voters across the country reportedly faced similar problems, causing people to question how many voters were unnecessarily turned down.

“So the system currently works against college students, in my opinion,” Stewart said. “Voting shouldn’t be difficult, I’ve been successfully been stripped my right to vote by the recent voter registration laws.”

Story: Nicole Caporaso, Senior News Reporter

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