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State Board of Elections To Review Early Voting Plans; Local Board Excludes ASU Site

By Jesse Wood

The State Board of Elections will review all non-unanimous early voting plans for counties across the state on a date that has yet to be determined, according to State Board of Elections spokesman Joshua Lawson.

Last week, the Watauga County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to approve a one-stop plan that would include the Watauga County Administration Building on King Street as the only early voting location in the county for the 2015 municipal elections, according to staff at the elections office.

Republicans Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto were the majority, while Democrat Stella Anderson advocated for an early voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University. Prior to the meeting, the Town of Boone submitted a recommendation to the elections board about its preference of having an early voting site on the college campus.

Eggers and Anderson couldn’t be reached on Friday afternoon.

The State Board of Elections is currently involved in a lawsuit against a local group of Democrats regarding early voting. In July 2014, the Republican majority on the Watauga County Board of Elections voted to exclude an ASU early voting site.

The State Board of Elections adopted the majority plan in August, and a month later, the group of local Democrats sued the State Board of Elections. After back and forth in the courts, an early voting site was eventually held on the campus for the November 2014 election – but the issue never left the courts.

Lawson said that the three-judge panel in the N.C. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Wednesday, but an exact date of the panel handing down an opinion is unknown.

If the decision is not unanimous, then the losing party can automatically appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court. If it is unanimous, then the N.C. Supreme Court must elect to hear the case.