Correction: After High Country Press published this story, Watauga County Board of Election’s Director Jane Hodges called to change a statement. Hodges thought she was talking to the gym teacher, however she was talking to the Green Valley Principal Phillip Griffin. The story reflects that change.
By Jesse Wood
Nov. 6, 2012. On Election Day this morning, things got heated – but it wasn’t because of bickering between members of opposing parties.
Deputies from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office were called into the Meat Camp election precinct inside the gymnasium of the Green Valley Elementary School because the students were in the “voting enclosure,” the place where citizens cast their ballots, according to Watauga County Board of Elections Director Jane Hodges.
After numerous requests, Green Valley Principal Phillip Griffin, wouldn’t remove the students from the bleachers that were in the poll area. After students get off the bus in the morning, they hang out in the gymnasium before classes began, and apparently Griffin didn’t want to change his routine.
N.C. General Statutes states that only people who are voting or those assisting voters are allowed in the voting enclosure, according to Hodges.
The election’s judge called Hodges to tell her about the violation of the N.C. General Statutes. Hodges pleaded with the principal multiple times, she said.
“[Griffin] didn’t like my ruling,” Hodges said. “He informed he would continue. I said, ‘Please don’t do that.’ I informed him I would call the sheriff, and he left the room before the Sheriff’s Department arrived.”
Hodges added, “I believe strongly, we are going to follow the General Statutes. I don’t care if it’s a presidential election or a vote on a sales tax.”
Sheriff Len Hagaman said he wasn’t aware of this incident but would inquire with his deputies to comment on the matter. Dispatches on a police scanner, however, verified that deputies were indeed called in.
Asked if any other incidents regarding election season have occurred, Hagaman said, “No.”
He added, “If that’s all that’s happened this [election season], we are doing alright.”
Griffin was in a principal’s meeting as of press time and could not be reached.