App State early-voting site could be restored

The state Court of Appeals has removed a stay blocking an earlier ruling that an early-voting site on campus at Appalachian State University should be restored. However, the state Supreme Court could still intervene.

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Early voting site
Laura Leslie
RALEIGH, N.C. — Voters on campus at Appalachian State University could get their early-voting site restored this week after all – if the North Carolina Supreme Court doesn't decide to step in.

The State Board of Elections has called an emergency teleconference meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the matter. 

Earlier this year, the Republican majority on Watauga County's Board of Elections voted to get rid of the on-campus site, which has been heavily used by students, faculty and staff at Appalachian State since it first opened in 2006. The State Board of Elections upheld that plan in August. 

A group of Watauga voters subsequently filed suit against the state board, arguing that the decision to close the site was motivated by partisan politics. Appalachian State voters tend to favor Democrats. 

Last week, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens agreed with the plaintiffs, ordering the state board to come up with a new early-voting plan for Watauga County that includes an on-campus location for early voting. 

The state appealed the ruling and asked for an emergency stay. The board also asked the state Supreme Court to take over the case, arguing that the case is likely to go to that body anyway. 

Late Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals rejected the state's appeal of Stephens' ruling, removing its emergency stay blocking the site.

The Supreme Court hasn't yet responded to the state's request for discretionary review. That request remains active. 

Both the chancellor of Appalachian State and the mayor of Boone have asked the state board to restore the site on campus. The chancellor and the lone Democrat on the county's election board say a site in the student union would be the easiest and most logical. Republican county elections board Chairman Luke Eggers told the state board he would prefer an alternate site that is less centrally located on the Boone campus.


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