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After ‘So Many Comments’ State Board of Elections Reviewing Monday’s Watauga Elections Board Meeting

By Jesse Wood

Elections 5
People supporting “voter rights” wore green in protest of agenda items that the board eventually passed Monday. Photo by Jesse Wood

Aug. 14, 2013. The State Board of Elections is currently reviewing comments from citizens, media coverage and video footage of the Watauga County Board of Elections meeting on Aug. 12, Don Wright, general counsel for the State Board of Elections, said on Wednesday morning.

Monday was the first meeting – and a contentious one at that– with all three new members of the Watauga County Board of Elections present. The two Republican-appointed members, Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto, voted to, among other things:

  • Limit early voting polling places to only the commissioners’ boardroom at the Watauga County Administration building on King Street. (Last election, early voting took place at the courthouse, the campus of ASU and at the Foscoe Fire Department.)
  • Combine three Boone precincts – Boone 1, Boone 2 and Boone 3 – into one that is located at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center. (In the last election, residents of those precincts voted in the Watauga County Board of Commissioners boardroom, ASU Plemmons Student Union and the agricultural conference center.)
  • Changing the New River 3 polling location from the Boone National Guard Armory to Mutton Crossing, located at 4469 Bamboo Road. (While the Armory precinct is near the edge of the voting district and Mutton Crossing is geographically central, the majority of the population resides closer to the Armory precinct.)

Opponents of these measures say this will suppress votes of Boone residents and college students, while Watauga County Republican Party Chair Anne-Marie Yates said these measures will make voting more convenient for all of the citizens in Watauga County by decentralizing voting in the town.

Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat on the Watauga County Board of Elections, was “pretty hot around the collar” at Monday’s meeting as she threatened legal action numerous times.

She accused Eggers and Aceto of violating open meeting laws by consulting each other in private – something Aceto denies. She was also outraged that Yates, who has a brother – Mark Templeton – running for Boone Town Council, knew about these measures before she, as a board member, did.

Don Wright on the State Board of Elections said numerous citizens have filed complaints about the meeting and added that it is rare for a county board of elections meeting to elicit “so many comments.”

“After the review, the executive director will see if anything is of concern,” Wright said.

With Gov. Pat McCroy being the first Republican governor in North Carolina in two decades, this is the first time that Republicans have controlled State Board of Elections – and in turn the county board of elections – in 20 years.

Watch first portion of meeting directly below and click the following link to watch the second part of the meeting: