Watauga Elections Board To Consider Legends Polling Place, Backtracking on Combining Three Boone Precincts

Published Monday, September 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 2, 2013. At the next Watauga County Board of Elections meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, the board will consider withdrawing a resolution that combines three Boone voting precincts into one polling place at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center and adopting a different resolution that calls for Legends on the campus of ASU to become the polling precinct on the college instead of the Plemmons Student Union.

Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges provided the agenda and resolutions up for adoption on Monday afternoon.

At the contentious Aug. 12 meeting that made national headlines, the Republican-led, three-member board voted to 2-1 to, among other things, to combine three Boone precincts, which were located at the Watauga County Board of Commissioners boardroom, ASU Plemmons Student Union and the agricultural conference center in the previous election.  That, along with reducing the number of early voting sites, Republican board members Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers eliminated voting precincts on the college campus.

“The action resulted in a great deal of misinformation being disseminated regarding the eligibility and ability of individuals to vote at the Boone precinct … The Watauga County Board of Elections encourages all eligible voters to exercise the right to participate in the election process,” the resolution reads.

It’s not certain, though, if this is permanent or temporary decision. 

“The Watauga County Board of Elections wishes to study the matter further and allow for all citizens to have accurate and complete information prior to the recombination of this precinct,” the resolution continues.

Eggers is listed as the person who included the two new resolutions in the Sept. 4 meeting agenda. Eggers nor Aceto responded to multiple requests for comment on Monday.

The resolution regarding switching the ASU polling place to Legends mentioned that the Plemmons Student Union is “less than ideal for a voting location” because it has limited handicap-accessibility, a shortage of parking for potential voters and distance from curbside voting. It also notes that because of the multiple entrances and exits, at least one staff member of the local elections office would be required to “enforce the fifty foot buffer regarding the distribution of campaign materials around the voting place.”

Hodges in the past has recommended Legends to be a polling spot, according to the resolution. Legends is listed in the resolution has being easily accessible for those with disabilities, visible from Hardin Street and U.S. 321 and other attributes for voter convenience. 

The regular-schedule meeting starts at 5 p.m.

To read more articles about the recent Watauga County Board of Elections actions, click here

See the agenda and proposed resolutions below. 

Elections Agenda


 

WITHDRAWAL OF RESOLUTION TO RE-COMBINE BOONE PRECINCTS       

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is an administrative and quasi-judicial board established pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-30; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is authorized by N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-128(a) to establish, alter, discontinue, or create such new voting places as it may deem expedient; and

            Whereas, on Monday, August 12, 2013, the Watauga County Board of Elections voted to

re-combine the Boone precincts due to the small geographic area of the precincts, the presence of early voting within the precinct, and the historically low voter turnout for the precincts; and

            Whereas, this action has resulted in a great deal of misinformation being disseminated regarding the eligibility and ability of individuals to vote at the Boone precinct; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections encourages all eligible voters to exercise the right to participate in the election process; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is concerned that the misinformation being distributed regarding this recombination of this precinct will result in voter confusion; and

            Whereas, the recombination of this precinct would become effective upon the approval of the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, and such approval remains pending at this time; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections wishes to study this matter further and allow for all citizens to have accurate and complete information prior to the recombination of this precinct.

            NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby resolved by the Watauga County Board of Elections:

            1.  The Watauga County Board of Elections hereby resolves that the Resolution to Recombine the Boone Precinct is withdrawn.

            2.  The Director for the Watauga County Board of Elections shall forward a copy of this resolution to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, and advise the Executive Director for the State Board of Elections that no further action is requested regarding that resolution at this time.

 

            Resolved, Passed, and Adopted at its scheduled board meeting this the ____ day of September, 2013.

 

                                                            _______________________________________

                                                            Chairman, Watauga County Board of Elections


RESOLUTION TO ALTER POLLING PLACE LOCATION

OF THE BOONE 2 PRECINCT

                       Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is an administrative and quasi-judicial board established pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-30; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is authorized by N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-33(4) to fix and provide for places for the holding of primaries and elections; and

            Whereas, the present voting location of the Boone 2 precinct is the Plemmons Student Union upon the campus of Appalachian State University; and

            Whereas, the present voting location of the Boone 2 precinct is less than ideal for a voting location due to multiple problems regarding the compliance with election law requirements and other practical considerations for elections staff; and

            Whereas, the Plemmons Student Union location has limited handicap-accessibility, and a shortage of parking availability for potential voters; and

            Whereas, due to the size of the building, it would be difficult for potential voters who are not familiar with the campus of Appalachian State University to locate the voting enclosure; and

            Whereas, in order to properly comply with curbside voting requirements, the location of the Plemmons Student Union would require the Board of Elections to dedicate a staff member solely to the purpose of observing the parking lot for curbside voters, since the parking area and vehicular access cannot be observed from the voting enclosure; and

            Whereas, Disability Rights of North Carolina has previously written the Watauga County Board of Elections on January 16, 2012 and April 30, 2012 regarding problems with accessibility of the voting enclosure at the Plemmons Student Union; and

            Whereas, Disability Rights of North Carolina has suggested the Board of Elections consider the use of the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University as the polling place for Boone 2; and

            Whereas, due to the multiple entrances and exits from the Plemmons Student Union, the Watauga County Board of Elections would require at least one dedicated staff person simply to enforce the fifty foot buffer regarding the distribution of campaign materials around the voting place; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections is mindful of the concerns of the student population at Appalachian State University that they would prefer this voting location to be located upon the campus of Appalachian State University; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building is located on the campus of Appalachian State University within the boundaries of the Boone 2 precinct; and

            Whereas the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University is located within several hundred yards of the Plemmons Student Union, and their relative locations are shown on the attached map; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building is a special events venue which can be utilized by the Watauga County Board of Elections as a polling place with minimal disruption to the events of Appalachian State University; and

            Whereas, a description of the Legends building as described by the www.appstate.edu website is attached, which sets forth the dimensions and other benefits of this space; and

            Whereas, due to the Legends Building being a special events venue, the Watauga County Board of Elections can properly and adequately secure the location for its use as a voting place on Election Day; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University is of adequate size to allow for its use as a voting place; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University has parking directly in front of the building entrance which could be used for voters of this precinct; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University has a handicapped accessible ramp and is easily accessible for those with disabilities; and

            Whereas, the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University is located on Hardin Street/US Hwy 321, and is highly visible from the main thoroughfare; and

            Whereas, elections staff can quickly and efficiently attend to those voters in need of curbside voting at the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University; and

            Whereas, elections staff can properly enforce the setback for electioneering activities from the voting place at the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University; and

            Whereas, the Watauga County Board of Elections Director has previously recommended moving the voting place for Boone 2 from the Plemmons Student Union to the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University; and

            NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby resolved by the Watauga County Board of Elections:

            1.  The polling place for the Boone 2 Precinct is hereby changed to the Legends Building on the campus of Appalachian State University, 190 Hardin Street; Boone, North Carolina.

            2.  The Watauga County Board of Elections Director shall take all steps appropriate and necessary to advertise this change in accordance with State law, upon approval by the Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

            Resolved, Passed, and Adopted at its scheduled board meeting this the ____ day of September, 2013. 

                                                            _______________________________________

                                                            Chairman, Watauga County Board of Elections

Approved:____________________________________

Kim Westbrook Strach, Executive Director

 

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