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LETTERS / When the Needs of The Few Outweigh the Needs of The Many

Dear Editor:

Every American citizen has a right to vote in these United States of America. It has cost us many decades and much blood spilt to have that as the law of this land. Are there people out there who do not grasp the importance of every vote cast by every citizen here? In light of all we have endured to get the right to vote accessible to every citizen of this Nation, are there people living here in this country, in this State who do not understand we ‘need’ to vote?
Without a large number of people voting in each election, we are left with a group of officials put into office by the few, yet in charge of the laws regulating the quality of life for the many – people governing us for terms of two years, four years, sometimes even six years of our lives. A daunting time frame, really.
Any attempts from anyone or any Party to impede a larger number of voters from voting should be spotlighted, because, frankly,  a lot can happen in a couple of years..or less. The GOP-led NC State Legislature has accomplished a great deal on its agenda in a matter of mere m o n t h s. There may be some out there who think the deeds of these folks in Raleigh are good ones for the citizens of this State, but not many. So it is very important that ‘the many’ vote, not just ‘the few’. Imperative. Essential. 

Cue spotlight on Boone NC.
Here in Watauga County, we have a few people who decided to throw obstacles in the road to voting for the many. 
Unfortunately for the many, these few are members of the political Party in power at present in this State, the Republican Party. 
Appointed by the Republican Governor Pat McCrory and given an(almost) free reign to do as they wish, there is a concerted effort by the members on these GOP-led BOEs to eliminate and restrict voting places, and it is happening in counties all across this State. It is without sound reason, it is intimidation, it is suppression and it should frighten you. Frighten us all into action.

Instead of determining to win as many unregistered voters over to the Grand Old Party as possible for the next election in November -or keep the registered ones- by actively seeking them out, speaking to them directly, by offering them a comfortable place to come and cast their vote for the GOP, the Republicans running things here have chosen another path to follow.
They behave indifferently to the largely negative reactions of the residents here, they offer no plausible explanation for their actions and do not seem bothered in the slightest at the national attention being given to their remarks or resolutions.  They do not appear to be particularly interested in every citizen voting for the future of this Nation or this State or this County..indeed, by reducing the places in town where voters may cast their ballot from three to one, they are effectively discouraging voters from voting. Equally disturbing, by eliminating the Student Union as a voting place, they are discouraging the students at ASU from voting. Or trying to..but why? 

With a student body numbering ca. 17,000, a huge opportunity presents itself every Fall to win these young minds over to a political Party that will likely be the one they belong to for most, if not all of their lives. Yes, many of the student population at ASU that did vote in the last election went more for the Democrats than the Republicans – so? Not up to the challenge, GOP?
Right there in the middle of the campus we have a gathering place for students and faculty alike, visited regularly by them all: Plemmons Student Union. There is no better place to reach as many of these potential voters as possible, convince them of the political platform and offer each a chance to cast his or her vote for their newly-found Party than right there, where they meet and discuss and live. Easy. Simple. Effective. Inexpensive. Successful.

But what did Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto do last Monday morning? The two GOP-members of the Watauga BOE voted to eliminate the Student Union on the ASU campus as a voting place, throwing this truly golden opportunity out the window. 
Mr. Eggers actually looked into the face of a reporter recently and said of the combining of three precincts – on camera – 
“It makes it more efficient. It makes it easier for us to canvass, makes it easier for us to staff,” and when asked if the changes make it easier for the board of elections, or if they make it easier for voters, Eggers replied that it would be easier for both. 
Now, there is only the Agricultural Center on the west end of town for potentially thousands of voters. Efficient? Easier? Wow. 
Hard to pull that off with a straight face, but he did. 

Well, how about these thoughts, sir: Everyone living in this county should be able to access a voting place, e a s i l y. 
Every political Party should encourage the younger generation living here to be actively involved in the future government and governing of this State and of this country and not treat them as transients, therefore not important to Watauga County.

The needs of the few do not outweigh the needs of the many. We must demand to have fairness, transparency and equality in our election process and say no to any sort of suppressive action taken against fair voting practices by those who are appointed OR elected here. They are in their positions to serve the interests of every voter in this county, and that includes the students living here, too. I believe we are bound to ensure that all are given a fair chance to exercise their right to vote, e a s i l y. Regardless of our political Party affiliation, it is also our civic duty to see to it that all citizens are afforded a suitable place to vote for the candidate and Party of their choice. In my opinion, it should be places ..not o n e place.. and they should be accessible to us all, e a s i l y. I believe this, too: The students of ASU will not be deterred, they will still vote here in Boone, making their way to the Agricultural Center on foot, with or without sidewalks, perhaps in a car, competing with the rest of us for one of the 30-odd parking places there…and the many will be helping them.

Barbara Gray