By Jesse Wood
March 24, 2014. On Monday, the State Board of Elections upheld the early voting plan for the May primary, which the Republican majority on the Watauga County Board of Elections passed on March 5.
Because that plan wasn’t unanimously adopted, the matter went before the State Board of Elections on Monday afternoon.
Bill Aceto, one of the two Republicans on the Watauga County Board of Elections, and Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat on the local elections board, each presented before the board on Monday in hopes of swaying the vote. Chair Luke Eggers didn’t attend the hearing.
Speaking late Monday, Aceto said the State Board of Elections, which has three Republicans and two Democrats, unanimously voted in favor of the majority plan passed Eggers and Aceto a few weeks earlier.
“The bi-partisan board unanimously approved and confirmed our initial plan of early voting sites,” Aceto said late Monday. “I am pleased with the outcome.”
The plan does not include early voting on the campus of Appalachian State University, which was a contentious portion of the plan.
Early voting for the primary will now take place at:
- Watauga County Administration Building in downtown Boone
- Western Watauga Community Center in Sugar Grove
- Blowing Rock Town Hall
- Deep Gap Fire Department
- Meat Camp Fire Department
Campbell’s early voting plan had a few similarities but also included sites on the campus of ASU and another site at the Council Chambers in Boone. While Aceto said his plan was geographically centered, Campbell noted that her sites were near the majority of the population.
Aceto added that vote with the State Board of Elections came with an amendment to voting hours. Aceto added that the new voting hours will be:
- Thursday and Friday, April 24 to 25 – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. *
- Monday, April 28, to Friday, May 2 – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Saturday, May 3 – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
*Note that the hours of operation for the Admin building on Thursday and Friday, April 24 to 25 are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While Campbell couldn’t be reached immediately after the meeting, Ian O’Keefe, field director for the Watauga County Democratic Party, said it was a “shame” that no early voting will take place on the campus of ASU. He noted that one of the Democrat members went on record to say that she – Maja Kricker – supported early voting on campus. (See a Twitter feed of the Watauga County Democratic Party for real-time Dem takes of the meeting. A Change.org petition for a reversal of the state-board vote has already begun. Watauga County Republican Party hasn’t mentioned the meeting on its Facebook page.)
Campbell’s petition asserted that the majority plan “is designed to and will, in fact, disenfranchise and suppress the votes” of 18- to 29-year-old voters in the county, non-white voters in the county, Democrats and Democratic-leaning unaffiliated voters in the county. See more about the 30-page petition here that included exhibits. That link also includes a statement on why Aceto doesn’t support an early voting site on ASU.
For more details on the meeting, check out WRAL’s take here. According to WRAL, “Republican state board chairman Josh Howard pointedly recommended that Aceto take Kricker’s [early voting at ASU during the general election] recommendation back to Watauga board chairman Luke Eggers.”
Early voting starts on April 24. Registration for the primary elections ends on Friday, April 11.
Contact the Watauga County Board of Elections at 828-265-8061 if you want to vote in Watauga and are not registered.