GOP-backed boards add hurdles for college voters

Posted August 20, 2013
Updated August 21, 2013

— An Elizabeth City State University student who has lived and voted in his college town since 2009 found his candidacy for city council thwarted by a decision by the local elections board.

Montravias King, an ECSU senior, was surprised that the Pasquotank County Board of Elections ruled that his residence, in a college dorm, didn't count toward the residency requirement to run for office.

He filed to represent the city's Fourth District, only to see his name removed from the ballot.

Montravias King ECSU student challenges elections board

"The residency requirements for a candidate are the exact residency requirements for a voter," King said, noting that he has worked, volunteered and voted in Elizabeth City for four years.

The state NAACP worries that the county elections board's actions will have a ripple effect on student voters in Pasquotank and across the state.

Pete Gilbert, chairman of the county's Republican party, challenged King's candidacy. Gilbert says a college dorm isn't a legal residence because it's closed for part of the year. He's challenged dozens of ECSU student voters on similar grounds in recent years.

The newly appointed Republican majority on the board agreed with Gilbert, a move King's lawyer says violates long-established state and federal legal precedent.

"The (U.S.) Supreme Court has already ruled on this decades ago," lawyer Jeremy Collins said. "College students have the right to vote in the town where they go to school."

On Tuesday, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed an appeal to the Pasquotank Board of Elections on King's behalf.

"I think it's sad that we have to deal with these challenges," King said. "College students should be encouraged to participate in the community that they call home. This has been my home since the summer of 2009."

William Skinner, the lone Democrat on the board, said Wednesday that the law is very clear, and King should have remained on the ballot.

"If you can vote in any political district, you should be able to run for office there," said Skinner, who voted to keep King's name on the ballot. "You can't deny a person who's been voting if he wants to run."

The two Republican board members, who were with Skinner in Cary Wednesday for training, declined to comment.

Pasquotank is not the only county making it tougher for students to vote. The Watuaga County elections board decided to close the early voting site at Appalachian State University and shut down an Election Day precinct there. Forsyth County is considering shuttering early voting at Winston-Salem State University.

Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, says it's a blatant attempt at voter suppression.

"It's a vulgar manipulation of the political process for one's own partisan reasons," he said. "We will not take it, we will not stand for it, and we will win."

NAACP attorney Al McSurely says the group will ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate counties where Republican-majority boards of election are making changes to accepted practice. 

"There a pattern of it across the state," McSurely said. "They come in with an agenda, like this thing is already pre-written and brought in on a platter."


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  • waltindurham Aug 27, 2013

    Perpetuating voting fraud is what the Democrats are all about. Voting fraud that benefits them.


  • perseusomega9 Aug 22, 2013

    GOP loves people to vote, but only they RIGHT people.

  • oldaltar Aug 22, 2013

    It is not about left or right. This is about good versus evil. Too many folks have fought and died for the right to vote. Maybe many of you do not remember. However I am certain that those who are trying to use these cowardly Gestapo tactics within this state and state government will fail. I think these actions are cowardly and evil in nature.

  • goldenosprey Aug 22, 2013

    "The problem is with running for an office in a city in which you DON'T reside." timex

    Would you make that post if it were a republican who spent 10 months of the year and studied and worked and voted in E City's 4th ward for years, who tried to run for office there? Go back and re-read the story and posts and you will see how indefensible your position is.

  • gercohen Aug 21, 2013

    Timexliving can you get it through your head that Montravias King is a resident of Elizabeth City's 4th ward? Even if you are suspicious of students in dorms. What in what he has done in his 48 months in Elizabeth City makes you think he is not a resident.? By your rationale Chancellors are not residents because they live in university housing and if they stop being chancellor they have to move out. Maybe a football scandal, campus police scandal. Accounting scandal

  • Sally1023 Aug 21, 2013

    I must ask, what are the republicans afraid of? They have deep pocket supporters who never have to report who or what they are giving political money to, they gerrymandered the state to the point of complete absurdity and now they are trying to keep university students, who may likely democratic from voting. What next? Are they only going to allow voting sites in the club houses of gated communities?

  • Banker1230 Aug 21, 2013

    Suppression of your voting rights is what the GOP want, that is why college ID cannot be used to vote under their bill.

  • junkmail5 Aug 21, 2013

    The problem is with running for an office in a city in which you DON'T reside.

    Except he's not actually DOING that.

    He has legally voted there for several elections now.

    Since that is true AND he is over 21, by the Constitution of NC, he is ELIGIBLE TO RUN FOR OFFICE there.

    I even quoted the bit from the constitution that says so.

    So I agree there's a reading comprehension problem, but it's entirely your own.

  • Ex-Republican Aug 21, 2013

    "What are you even talking about?

    the person in question is LEGALLY QUALIFIED to vote at his college town." junkmail5

    Again, another person who has trouble with reading comprehension. The problem is with running for an office in a city in which you DON'T reside.

  • davidgnews Aug 21, 2013

    Now you're going to start seeing real voter fraud at the hands of the GOP.