Aug. 30, 2013. The Student Body President of Appalachian State University G. Dylan Russell highlights his concerns on Watauga County Board of Election’s decision to remove voting from our campus. His letter is below
Further down is a Resolution which was passed by the Association of Student Government (UNC ASG), a group of delegates from all seventeen UNC-System schools. The UNC-ASG supports all students’ rights to actively and easily participate in government where they attend school.
To the North Carolina State Board of Elections,
As Student Body President of Appalachian State University, I do not stand in support of the Watauga County Election Board’s decision to move voting off campus. I firmly believe that the students and local residents will feel the negative impact of the board’s decision come Election Day.
With the present decision students will no longer have the option to vote on campus. Three of Boone’s precincts, two of which include Appalachian State University, will be forced to vote at the Agricultural Conference Center. This means that 9,300 people will vote in a polling place originally designed for 1,500 people. The new polling location only provides 35 parking spots for voters, not including parking used for election officials. There is also a major safety concern as there is no sidewalk leading from Appalachian State University’s campus to the new designated polling place. Another concern is that there is no public transportation available for said polling location.
Appalachian State University is the largest employer in Watauga County. This plan will inconvenience several thousand students as well as 2,829 local community members that the university employs. More than half of the residents in the town of Boone will be assigned to this polling place, making it the third largest polling location in the state of North Carolina.
The result of the Election Board’s decision will make it much more difficult for students to get to the polls. Appalachian State University offers ample parking and close proximity to not only students, but the community as well. The university is the central precinct in Boone.
The public university system is intended to foster politically active students who will become responsible American citizens who partake in the democratic process. As students, we do not understand why there are individuals who seek to make voting more difficult for both students and local citizens. For many years, Appalachian State University has worked with the Town of Boone to create a unified community. Students have been responsible for providing countless amounts of services to the town. We are residents, and we consider the moving of this polling place to be an extreme disappointment.
The County Election Board has not offered an adequate explanation for their decision to move voting off of Appalachian State University’s campus. Any revisions in voting procedure should work to make voting more accessible and ensure civic participation.
We study that our shared history of America is about expanding democracy and ensuring the voice of all be heard. As the Student Body President of Appalachian State University, I appeal to the State Board of Elections to overturn the Watauga County Election Board decision to ensure that all residents of Boone can actively participate in elections.
G. Dylan Russell
Student Body President
Student Government Association
Appalachian State University