Watauga Dems seek election board ousters
Posted October 9, 2013
Updated October 10, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina State Board of Elections is reviewing a complaint by three Watauga County Democrats against the two Republican members of the Watauga County Board of Elections.
The complaint, filed Tuesday with the state board, requests the removal of board Chairman Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto on the grounds of "official misconduct, participation in intentional irregularities, unethical actions, and incapacity and incompetency to the discharge the duties of their offices."
According to the complaint, Eggers and Aceto violated open records and meetings laws, engaged in "arbitrary and capricious behavior" and are being improperly advised by Eggers' older brother, Watauga County attorney and past board member Stacy "Four" Eggers.
The complainants say digital signatures on board documents prove Luke Eggers "permitted his brother to run the CBE behind the scenes."
The complaint also accuses the two board members of "disproportionately target[ing] the voting rights of Appalachian State University students" by removing early- and Election Day-voting sites from the campus and combining school and town precincts into a super-precinct comprised of more voters than state law allows.
Jesse Presnell, one of the complainants, has been a vocal critic of the new board.
"They've been allowing Four Eggers, who was purposefully not approved by the State Board of Elections to serve as a board member because of conflicts of interest, to effectively circumvent the state board and indirectly serve as a board member," Presnell said.
"They've intentionally left the lone Democratic member out of the loop, ignored her concerns and have obviously worked to suppress the student vote in Watauga. They've ignored the advice of our veteran Board of Elections executive director, Jane Anne Hodges, several times including most recently in a public meeting.
"I believe the people of Watauga County deserve competent and honest board members governing their rights to vote," said Presnell. "I hope the State Board of Elections will agree with me and take action on this petition."
Luke Eggers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Aceto did.
"I have not received a formal copy of the complaint, but my understanding is three members of the local Democratic Party are the ones who filed the complaint," he said. "The complaint is obviously very partisan and that a small group of local Democrats are unhappy."
Aceto said he intends to formally respond to the state board. "The folks I have talked to locally are tired of hearing about the Watauga County Board of Elections in the news."
North Carolina law gives the state elections board authority to remove county board members for "incompetency, neglect or failure to perform duties, fraud, or for any other satisfactory cause." But state board general counsel Don Wright said requests for the board to do so are "very rare."
Wright said the state board is reviewing the complaint. Under the state administrative code, if the board finds evidence of cause, a hearing on the complaint will be scheduled.