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@NCCapitol

Judge orders county to provide early voting site on App State campus

Posted October 13, 2014

— A Superior Court judge ordered Monday that the Watauga County Board of Elections provide an early voting site on the Appalachian State University campus, calling the board's decision to move the site an unconstitutional effort to limit student voting.

The Republican-controlled board decided early this year to shift the early voting site from the campus to a site in downtown Boone about a half-mile away. A polling place would still be open on campus on Election Day.

The lone Democrat on the Watauga County board argued that the move is inconvenient for students and university staff, but the two Republicans said the downtown site offers greater access to the wider community.

The State Board of Elections upheld the plan in August, but Judge Donald Stephens overturned their decision.

"Frankly, the court does not care how young people, including college students, vote, but the court does feel strongly that government should make every effort to encourage that group of voters and every group of voters to vote," Stephens said. "(It) is the responsibility of government to minimize inconvenience in voting, not maximize it."

Stephens said it's up to the board of elections to determine the best location on campus for the early voting site.

Early voting starts Oct. 23.

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  • Carl Keehn Oct 14, 2014
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    Perhaps because in 1978 the rights of College Students to vote where they attend school was recognized by the case Symm vs the United States.

  • Terry Watts Oct 14, 2014
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    As posted below: "The site it was moved to would require students to walk along a busy highway without sidewalks or to drive to the facility which has insufficient parking. The new precinct is also a "Superprecinct" with over 9,000 registered voters, far above the state mandated precinct size."

  • Carl Keehn Oct 14, 2014
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    College students of course.

  • justabumer Oct 14, 2014

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    I don't disagree with moving the site back to campus but am curious about who these "certain people" are. How do you feel one particular group (whoever they are) is more impacted by these decisions than others?

  • miseem Oct 14, 2014

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    I'm sure the Watauga BOE will appeal. All they (and several other county BOEs) have done in the last two years is make a mockery of the election process by attempts to disenfranchise as many democratic leaning voters as they can. Even the Republican majority on the state BOE has shown some displeasure with the actions of the Republican majority on the Watauga BOE, they just stopped short of requiring that BOE to change voting sites. http://www.wral.com/state-board-critical-of-election-officials-in-watauga/13237899/
    But as far as the judge's authority, he is a NC Superior Court Judge, so he does have authority in this case. An appeal would only center on if he made the right decision, not whether he had the right to make it.

  • Paul Donovan Oct 14, 2014
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    The BOE should appeal this ruling. I don't think he has the authority to make this ruling.

  • Robert Richardson Oct 14, 2014
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    What fraudulent voting was happening at this location? Of course, none was but good try there.

  • Paul Maxwell Oct 14, 2014
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    The judge's ruling on this issue has nothing to do with the Supreme Court ruling, which was concerned with state-wide voting changes. This is about a local BOE's conscious decision to suppress voting for many Watauga County citizens-- specifically those folks who might vote for a Democrat. (Politics in Watauga have turned into a clown act--and not a funny one...)

  • Terry Watts Oct 14, 2014
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    The SCOTUS struck down a hold on two parts of the law, both of which have nothing to do with placement of polling places. But with your vast knowledge of the Constitution, I'm sure you'll be able to mount proper legal action to stop this new polling place from being ordered open...

  • iopsyc Oct 14, 2014

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    First, he's a NC Superior court judge, not a Federal judge.
    Secondly, he's not ruling on any part of the voting law.

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