By Jesse Wood
Oct. 21, 2014. In the ongoing lawsuit between the State Board of Elections and local Democrats, the N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday afternoon lifted the temporary stay against an early-voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University.
Last week, the N.C. Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay until formally ruling today.
Now, the State Board of Elections has two options: throw in the towel and decide where on campus an early-voting site will be located or give the N.C. Supreme Court an opportunity to weigh in on the issue. Time is of the essence, considering, early voting starts on Thursday, Oct. 23.
With both options still on the table, State Board of Elections Chair Josh Howard called a special meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 4 p.m. for “consideration [of] the one-stop implementation plan in Watauga County.”
SBOE spokesman Josh Lawson wrote in an email, “Supreme Court petition is still active. The Attorney General’s office has not filed any additional appellate petitions before the Supreme Court.”
In the past week, ASU officials and members of the Watauga County Board of Elections have sent recommendations to State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach on where to put the one-stop site on the campus if that is what ends up happening come Thursday. See those recommendations, which include the Plemmons Student Union, Legends and the McKinney Alumni Center, here.
Early voting begins on Thursday, Oct. 23.
See prior article below for more background on this ongoing issue.
Court Issues Emergency Temporary Stay Against One-Stop Site on ASU, Still Up in the Air With Voting Days Away
By Jesse Wood
Oct. 20, 2014. On Friday afternoon, the N.C. Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay against an early-voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University until at least Tuesday and ordered legal representatives for the State Board of Elections and those representing local Democrats who petitioned the courts to submit arguments, according to WRAL.
After the Republican majority on the Watauga County Board of Elections voted to exclude an early voting site on the ASU campus in July, the State Board of Elections upheld that decision in August. Then in September a group of local Democrats filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Elections, which has a Republican majority, seeking a judicial review of the implemented early-voting plan and claiming that the plan was discriminatory to college-aged voters and violated the state and federal constitutions.
So far in October, judges in Wake County Superior Court then granted an expedited review of the matter in light of the general election around the corner and then remanded the plan back to the State Board of Elections with instructions to include an early voting site on the college campus.
Last week, the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the State Board of Elections, requested a stay of the order, pending appellate review, to include an early voting site on the college campus until after the election.
“With early voting scheduled to begin on [Thursday, Oct. 23, the State Board of Elections] would be irreparably harmed by enforcement of the order directing it to adopt a new early voting plan for Watauga County,” according to a motion filed by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens denied that request by stating: “The early-voting plan by the majority of members of the Watauga County Board of Elections was arbitrary and capricious. All credible evidence indicates that the sole purpose of that plan was to eliminate an early voting site on campus so as to discourage student voting and, as such, it is unconstitutional.”
Attorneys for the State Board of Elections appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals.
“The trial court’s order was issued ten days before the start of early voting. If not stayed by this Court, the order, which is ultra vires, threatens the orderly operation of the election while infringing on the statutorily conferred discretion of the State Board,” according to the request for an emergency temporary stay.
On Friday afternoon, the N.C. Court of Appeals issued the emergency motion for temporary stay, siding with the State Board of Elections.
With early voting beginning on Thursday, a one-stop site at the campus of Appalachian State University is still up in the air.
See more here.