By Jesse Wood
Sept. 19, 2013. The State Board of Elections has approved Legends as a polling place for the upcoming municipal elections in Boone in November, according to a letter from Executive Director Kim Strach to the Watauga County Board of Elections members and staff.
On Sept. 4, the Republican majority of the Watauga County Board of Elections passed a resolution that moved a polling place on the campus of Appalachian State University from the Plemmons Student Union to Legends, which is located off of Hardin Street.
“The only role that this agency plays in reviewing a voting place is to determine whether it is accessible to disabled voters,” Strach wrote, adding that Watauga County Board of Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges confirmed that Legends is accessible to disabled voters in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
“Since the site does satisfy requirements for accessibility, this agency has no authority to take further action in this matter,” Strach continued.
While ASU staff, Hodges and Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat on the three-member board, noted that a polling place in the Linville Falls Room inside the Plemmons Student Union was a “superior” site, Chair Luke Eggers maintained, in which Secretary Bill Aceto agreed, that Legends would be more “convenient” for voters of all voting demographics at the Sept. 4 meeting.
In her Sept. 19 letter, Strach noted two of the concerns that opponents of the Legends location brought up at the meeting a couple weeks ago.
“We note, however, that we have been advised that this location has been subject to flooding over the years, so I would ask that you have a plan in place should flooding occur or the facility loses electricity on the day of an election,” Strach wrote.
The day before the Sept. 4 meeting, David Robertson, ASU director of student programs and overseer of the Plemmons Student Union and Legends, wrote a lengthy letter to Strach noting why Legends would not be an ideal location. Along with flooding and backup power issues, he mentioned numerous other issues in that letter. Read it here.
Strach ended her letter with a note that the board shouldn’t hesitate to change the Legends’ location if an alternative can better serve the public.
“This agency strongly encourages county boards to study all options for accessible voting locations in the context of a facility’s availability, proximity to the largest number of voters in the precinct, parking and accessibility,” Strach wrote. “County boards should not hesitate to consider changes to voting locations if an alternative location can better serve the public.”
For many more stories on the controversies of the Watauga County Board of Elections’ recent activity, click here.