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Watauga Elections Board To Reconsider One-Stop Plans With Squashed Voter ID Law

By Jesse Wood

The Watauga County Board of Elections will meet next Monday to reconsider early voting plans for the General Election in November. The meeting takes place in the Watauga County Courthouse at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 15.

The local board is reconsidering one-stop plans presented and voted upon in July because of the U.S. Circuit of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling striking down the Voter ID law.

In July, the three-member board voted on one-stop plans, but because the board wasn’t unanimous in its decision, the matter was slated to go before the State Board of Elections.

Elections Director Matt Snyder said that the State Board of Elections is now asking that local boards draft one-stop plans that comply with the ruling.

For example, the Voter ID law reduced early voting from two weeks to one week, so the Watauga County Board of Elections must draft plans to accommodate early voting from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5. In addition, same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting is also allowed again. All voter ID requirements are nil.

At the July meeting, the bipartisan board sparred over the location of an early voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University. The GOP board members, Bill Aceto and Nancy Owen, favored a one-stop plan that included an early voting site at Legends on the campus of Appalachian State University, which is located off of U.S. 321, on the edge of campus.

Meanwhile, Democrat member Stella Anderson favored a one-stop plan that included a site at Plemmons Student Union on the campus of Appalachian State University, a central hub of the campus. All members agreed upon the other sites out in the county: Watauga County Administration Building in downtown Boone, Blowing Rock Town Hall, Western Watauga Community Center in Cove Creek and at the volunteer fire departments of Meat Camp and Deep Gap.

Assuming the board doesn’t reach a unanimous consensus, the SBOE will decide the one-stop fate of Watauga County. Snyder said that the SBOE hasn’t scheduled a date to hear the unanimous plans yet.

See meeting notice and agenda below.

ICYMI: SBOE Issues Statement on Fourth Circuit Ruling

State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach today issued the following statement regarding the panel decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:

We encourage all voters to stay informed of developments over the coming weeks.

Our agency is carefully reviewing today’s decision from the Fourth Circuit.  Absent alternative guidance from the courts, voters will not be asked to show photo identification this election.  Early voting will run October 20 through November 5, and same-day registration will be available at early voting sites.

If voters do not appear at their assigned precinct within their county, their vote will still count for all eligible contests.  However, to avoid voting a provisional ballot, we encourage voters to appear at their properly-assigned precinct on Election Day.

Counsel for the state are reviewing options on appeal.  Regardless of the outcome, our agency will continue to educate voters and prepare elections officials ahead of November.

Agenda Notice of Board Meeting