By Jesse Wood
At last night’s Watauga County Board of Elections meeting to reconsider an early voting plan for the county during the general election, the three-member board failed to vote on either a minority or majority plan for lack of a second.
The local board is reconsidering one-stop plans presented in July because of the Fourth Circuit of Appeals ruling a few weeks ago striking down the Voter ID law.
Like in July, Republican Board Member Bill Aceto and the lone Democrat Board Member Stella Anderson both put forth one-stop plans that differed around the one-stop site on the campus of Appalachian State University. Like the Watauga County GOP, Aceto favors Legends on the college campus, while Anderson and the local Democrats favor the ASU Plemmons Student Union.
However, Republican Board Member Nancy Owen didn’t second either plan. In July, she voted for the majority plan put forth by Aceto. Owen wasn’t immediately available for comment on Tuesday morning.
Watauga County Elections Director Matt Snyder said he wasn’t exactly sure what would happen now. On Tuesday morning, Snyder said that he is in talks with staff at the State Board of Elections on how to proceed.
When a plan isn’t unanimous, the State Board of Elections will adopt a plan for the county. However, there isn’t a precedent – or at least a known one as of today – for one-stop or Election Day site plan or plans that weren’t voted upon, according to Josh Lawson, general counsel for the State Board of Elections.
Lawson said that general statutes puts one-stop plans in the state board’s jurisdiction after a county elections board considers a plan and a county elections board member petitions the state board to establish a plan.
On Tuesday morning, Anderson sent an email to Lawson and SBOE Executive Director Kim Strach to petition the SBOE to adopt a one-stop plan for Watauga County, according to the email obtained in a records request.
Lawson said the State Board of Elections hasn’t scheduled a meeting to deal with Watauga County, but he did say that the SBOE will “likely have to do something” in the last week of August because early voting begins in about two months.
Anderson’s plan included 429 one-stop hours at the following sites:
- Admin Building – 125 total hours
- ASU Student Union – 80 total hours
- Deep Gap, Blowing Rock, Meat Camp and Western Watauga – 224 total hours
Aceto’s plan included 358 one-stop hours at the following sites:
- Admin Building: 113 total hours
- ASU Legends – 49 hours
- Deep Gap, Blowing Rock, Meat Camp, and Western Watauga – 196 total hours