App State voting site survives legal fight

Posted October 22, 2014

Early voting site

— The North Carolina Supreme Court said Wednesday afternoon the courts should take up the issue of early voting on the campus of Appalachian State, literally moments after the State Board of Elections had voted to restore the on-campus early voting site.

However, the early voting site will remain open as the state elections board voted, unless the board meets again to cancel the site. 

The Supreme Court order came down just before 5 p.m., about twenty minutes after the state board voted unanimously to OK the site in a hastily called emergency meeting.  

Early voting is scheduled to begin in Watauga County at 8 a.m. Thursday. 

The latest developments follow a ruling last week in a lawsuit filed by a group of Watauga County voters that argued the closure of the on-campus site was a transparent attempt to reduce Democratic turnout. Wake Superior Judge Donald Stephens agreed with the plaintiffs, ordering the state elections board to adopt a new early voting plan for Watauga County that would include a site on campus. 

The Watauga County board, like the State Board of Elections, is majority Republican, while the voters at Appalachian State tend to lean Democratic.

The state board appealed Stephens's ruling to the N.C. Court of Appeals and even asked the state Supreme Court to block the order. But the Court of Appeals denied the appeal Tuesday, and the Supreme Court had not stepped in by the time of Wednesday afternoon's meeting.

"I guess we have not heard from the Supreme Court at this point, and that’s why we’re here," commented Republican board member Rhonda Amoroso.

However, minutes after the meeting concluded, the N.C. Supreme Court issued an order saying it would send the case to the Court of Appeals for review, and staying Stephens' earlier order to open an early-voting site on the Boone campus.

State board spokesman Josh Lawson confirmed that the Supreme Court stay does not void the elections board's vote to add the on-campus site. However, the state board could choose to hold another meeting and vote again to get rid of the site, now that Stephens' order requiring it is no longer in effect. 

The on-campus site will be at the Plemmons Student Union, a location that has hosted early voting since 2006. 

In a letter to the state board, Watauga County Elections Board chairman Luke Eggers asked them to choose either a nearby nightclub or the school's alumni center instead. Eggers said it would be difficult to enforce electioneering buffer zones at the student union's many entrances, and he expressed concern that voters unfamiliar with the school would have difficulty locating a room in the large building. 

Republican state board member Paul Foley echoed those concerns at Wednesday's meeting. However, noting that the nightclub already has several events booked during the early voting period, and with such a short window of time to set up a site, he reluctantly agreed with Democratic board member Joshua Malcolm that the student union would be the best choice. 

The board-approved plan opens the on-campus site during the same hours as other satellite voting locations around the county.  

"Our thanks in advance to the Watauga County staff and volunteers and precinct workers that are going to have to pull things together with very limited time," commented state board chairman Josh Howard.


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  • LovemyPirates Oct 24, 2014

    Skeeter II - What is to prevent you from voting by locally and by absentee ballot? You could easily request an absentee ballot, complete it, mail it in and then try to vote on election day. I say try because if you did this, then it would be noted in the voter roll and you'd not be allowed to vote the second time, just like would happen in your scenario.

  • tracmister Oct 24, 2014

    The only real issue was an attempt by the Republicans to prevent young people from exercising their right to vote. The Republicans remind me of the Federalists who created the Alien and Sedition Act with Midnight judges in order to seize power by any means necessary.

  • Matt Wood Oct 24, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Hmmm, there's this thing, I think it's called a "voter registry." Yeah, that's it! It's what state BOEs across the nation use to update their rolls and ensure people aren't voting multiple times.

  • joenc Oct 23, 2014

    Republican SBOE Members should resign! NC Supreme Court blocks the Order of activist Democrat Judge and SBOE thumb their noses at the Supreme Court by implementing the Order anyway. Way to go!

  • Pensive01 Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    But surely the mere act of presenting a voter ID will prevent such fraud from ever taking place. That is what the proponents of voter ID laws are claiming after all.

  • skeeter II Oct 23, 2014

    This does not mean that this site will be used for the normal November day voting!

    Need some way to determine if the ASU students vote locally and also by absentee ballot at home address or even go home to vote on November voting day even though they voted at ASU.

  • miseem Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You mean the 145 voters across the state showing up on a DMV crosscheck. But without any complete follow up on whether they are or are not legitimate voters or whether they will even vote? So we know that 145 people MAY be ineligible, but some or all of them MAY BE eligible or listed due to clerical error. And an ID obviously did not solve this problem since the names came from the license agency. In the mean time, we are either going to disenfranchise or at least put up more hoops to jump through for hundreds of thousands of voters. That makes a lot of sense. If you are afraid of an honest vote. I do not have a problem with cross checking and investigating possible voter fraud and purging ineligible voters and prosecuting fraud. However, until it is investigated and proven as fraud rather than just allegations, it does not go very far in showing massive voter fraud.

  • T-Man Oct 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Interesting - is this being reported by other news sites? I haven't seen it elsewhere.

  • Progressiveredneck Oct 23, 2014

    The Elections Board in Watauga is incredulous! They openly are saying they don't care or want the students to vote! Their mission should be just the opposite. This is the GOP playbook- do anything and everything to keep people from voting - especially when the constituency is democratic.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Oct 23, 2014

    NC GOP stop wasting taxpayer money fighting laws that you won't win. Just let people vote for goodness sake.