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SBOE Chairman Slams Watauga Board of Elections Friday, Rejects Democrats’ Petition To Oust Eggers, Aceto

By Jesse Wood

Dec. 20, 2013. The State Board of Elections rejected the petition to oust Republicans Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers from the Watauga County Board of Elections at a meeting on Friday, according to the complainants and WRAL.com.

Democrats Stella Anderson, Jesse Presnell and Ian O’Keefe filed the complaint with the State Board of Elections in October, alleging a variety of charges against Eggers and Aceto since the two were sworn into the board in the summer. Aceto filed a response two days later requesting a dismissal of the complaint and described it as “very partisan.”

The State Board of Elections hears from the local board members in September. Photo by Lonnie Webster
The State Board of Elections hears from the local board members in September. Photo by Lonnie Webster

In September, the local board all attended a hearing before the State Board of Elections in Raleigh to discuss polling locations. While the State Board of Elections upheld the elimination of an early voting site on Appalachian State University, the state board admonished the local board for ending up on YouTube.

Leading up to the meeting, SBOE General Counsel Don Wright noted that Friday’s meeting wouldn’t be an evidentiary hearing of the complaint but a review and discussion amongst the state board members. 

On Friday, Chairman Josh Howard, a Republican, acknowledged that this wasn’t the first time issues emerged on the “still young board” and mentioned that “Watauga County citizens would be better served by choosing the first three names in the phone book rather than the current board” featuring Eggers, Aceto and Democrat Kathleen Campbell, according to the complainants present and a Twitter feed from WRAL reporter Mark Binker.

Binker tweeted that the board members noted that “dysfunction illustrated” by the board members didn’t violate the law. 

It was also reported that State Board of Elections members Josh Malcolm, a Democrat, and Paul Foley, a Republican, will have an “intervention” in Watauga County with the local board.

Speaking on Friday, Anderson said that she didn’t believe an intervention would work to rehabilitate the board. 

“I fully expect we will probably be back about these board members in a couple of months,” Anderson said.

Eggers hadn’t heard about the decision until High Country Press contacted him for comment on Friday afternoon.

“I am glad it’s been thrown out. I didn’t see much weight to it to begin with and am glad to finally have that behind us,” Eggers said, adding that he wasn’t sure what an intervention entailed. 

Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges added, “I understand they are calling for an intervention, [but] I do not know how that will work.” 

SBOE General Counsel Don Wright didn’t immediately return a phone call on Friday afternoon.

View a screenshot of Binker’s Twitter feed below:

Watauga State BOE