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LETTERS / My Concerns About Voting in Watauga County

Dear Editor: A letter I sent to the Board of Elections

Ms. Hodges:
 In reviewing the voting data of Watauga County, as per the recent primary and the voting opportunities and arrangements that have prevailed for many years now, I believe that this situation has been and is very unfair and gives too many people far too much of an advantage regarding the election process. I have noted this unjust state of affairs on other occasions.
 In reviewing the recent primary results, anyone with common sense can easily realize the disadvantage for some at considerable advantage and convenience to others. It is obvious to me that these very inequitable conditions are deliberate.
 First, there was one-stop voting at the county courthouse, which was available from April 19th to May 5th . This is a very generous and convenient voting time period for town residents and ASU students. Additionally, the County, all taxpayers, pays for this convenience and advantage for the town residents and ASU students.
 In addition, there were two other Boone sites, at Town Hall and the ASU Student Union, with voting opportunities from April 30th to May 4th — a five day period. Also, at all three Boone sites, one could also register and vote simultaneously. No doubt with these convenient sites and generous time periods allowed, the number of town resident and ASU student voters is huge, as the results clearly show.
 The rural people have not had in the past, and still do not have, such conveniences or a generous time period available to vote. And on the official voting day, the rural community voters have to be pre-registered.
Just how fair and equitable is this sharp contrast of voting opportunities, or the lack thereof, for rural citizens?
Has it ever occurred to you, Ms. Hodges, or to the County Board of Elections and other officials, from the state to the county and town, that if rural people had more than one day to vote in their local area or community, which are considerable locales, then the number of participating and registered voters overall would increase significantly? And whether or not they could register and vote at the same time?
 In other words, in the Boone area and on the ASU campus, there are three voting sites for days, if not weeks, and an additional privilege to register and vote simultaneously. That’s quite an advantage for townspeople and ASU students, by any standard. There is no doubt about it.
 Isn’t it possible that if rural people had the same general voting conveniences as Boone residents and ASU students enjoy, that the voting results could and would be different?
 In a close election, whether local, state or national, this advantage can be and does make a tremendous difference. Consider the county results in regard to the marriage amendment. The county results were very, very close. Even with the considerable voting advantage (and registering opportunities) of at least several days for the town and ASU students, who were against the proposed Amendment by a large margin, the rural turnout for the Amendment, which was significant, but for only one day, came very, very close to offsetting the town and ASU numbers. Again, what would have happened if rural voters had more than one day to cast their ballots and other sites in their precincts available?
 Again, isn’t it possible, even probable, that if rural people had the same voting conveniences as Boone residents and ASU students have, that voting results could and would be different?
 There is no doubt in my mind that these generous voting periods, multiple sites, and one-stop registering and voting opportunities are deliberate to give Boone residents and ASU students decided advantages at the expense and disenfranchisement of the rural people.
 Again, I ask, just how fair and equitable are these voting and election realities? How has the County and State Board of Elections been able to allow, in good conscience, such unjust election procedures, and how can you and the boards continue to justify such gross inequality against one section of the population?
Again, I believe this very unfair election modus operandi with very obvious voting advantages for some is deliberate and must be recognized and stopped.
 Ms. Hodges, I am requesting that you forward a copy of this letter of complaint to every Watauga Board of Elections member, including Stella Anderson, and every NC State Board of Elections member, including Don Wright.
 As you can see, I am also forwarding this email to Mr. Soucek and Mr. Jordan and other county officials.
Madeline K. Carter