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State Board To Hear Appeal of New Early Voting Plan For Upcoming Municipal Elections in Watauga on Sept. 3

By Jesse Wood

Aug. 27, 2013. The State Board of Elections will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m. in Raleigh to hear, among other agenda items, an appeal of the one-stop plan the Republican-led Watauga County Board of Elections passed on Aug. 12 that eliminated early voting on the campus of Appalachian State University during the November municipal elections. 

Republicans Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto voted for the measure while Democrat Kathleen Campbell strongly opposed. 

Three days after the contentious meeting, which put the national spotlight on Watauga County, Campbell sent a letter to the State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach petitioning the state to approve an alternative plan that would include an early voting site on the college campus. 

Campbell referenced the following language in the N.C. General Statutes:

“If a county board of elections has considered a proposed Plan or Plans for Implementation and has been unable to reach unanimity in favor of a Plan, a member or members of that county board of elections may petition the State Board of Elections to adopt a plan for it. If petitioned, the State Board may also receive and consider alternative petitions from another member or members of that county board. The State Board of Elections may adopt a Plan for that county. The State Board, in that plan, shall take into consideration factors including geographic, demographic, and partisan interests of that county.”

During the Sept. 3 meeting, State Board of Elections General Counsel Don Wright said that the State Board of Elections will recognize and call up the board members of the Watauga County Board of Elections and Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges. Campbell will have a chance to explain her position and other members will have a chance to explain their positions, Wright said.

Wright said members of the public are invited to attend the meeting. Wright said that generally the board allows public comment from those in attendance, but Wright added that Howard “may or may not” decide to allow public comment. 

“It depends,” Wright said. “It would be up to the chairman to solicit public comments.” 

Wright also emphasized that the many emails his office has received regarding the controversies swirling around the Watauga County Board of Elections have been reviewed and filed. He added that individuals who commented on the matter were sent a notice of the upcoming Sept. 3 meeting this morning. 

The State Board of Elections consists of five members that were appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, who selects his appointments from a list submitted by the chairs of the N.C. Republican and Democratic parties. The appointments cannot include more than three members from one party. 

Chair Josh Howard, Secretary Rhonda Amoroso and Board Member Paul Foley are Republicans and Council Members Joshua Malcolm and Maja Kricker are Democrats. 

The hearing begins at 1 p.m. at the State Board of Elections office on 441 North Harrington Street in Raleigh.

To read numerous stories regarding the Watauga County Board of Elections recent activities, click here

See the entire agenda below: 

State Board meeting