The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted 4-0 on a plan that will include an early voting site at Appalachian State University at about 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.
State Board members voted in favor of mandating an early voting plan for Watauga County that includes sites in Blowing Rock, Deep Gap, Meat Camp, Sugar Grove, and Plemmons Student Union. Each of those sites will be closed Monday, March 7 while the main administration site on King Street will remain open.
State board members asked questions about how the local board would provide controls against electioneering, the number of parking spaces, and how the Student Union would be advertised. Members were particularly interested in how a 2014 Wake County Superior Court order to include an ASU voting site would factor in to the new early voting plan.
“It was very clear that Jude Stephen’s order weighed heavily on this board and this decision because they expect that if they deny the site again, they’re going to face a court order again,” board member Stella Anderson said after the meeting. “Nothing has changed. Everything has the same circumstances.”
Bill Aceto, Watauga Board of Elections chairman, stated several times that he disagreed with Stephen’s ruling that the exclusion of an ASU site was “a significant infringement of students’ right to vote.”
“The student union is a labyrinth of a building and impossible to establish electioneering buffers,” Aceto said. “I’m not against the site at ASU I just think it’s unnecessary.”
During the same meeting, North Carolina State Board of Elections members voted 3-2 against a plan that would have included a voting site at Winston Salem State University.
“This entire state and all of the counties that have large college campus, they should be watchful and mindful that this state has done a lot to disenfranchise – whether it was intentional or not – it will have the effect of disenfranchising young people,” Anderson said.
The state Chairman, Grant Whitney, recused himself from the decision due to a conflict of interest, reducing the five-member board to only four members.