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

Posted October 13, 2014 2:24 p.m. EDT

— 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.