The Watauga County Board of Elections was loudly criticized for scheduling the liquor-by-the-drink vote yesterday. They were accused of conspiring to deprive Appalachian State University students of their rights, because the BOE set the date of the liquor election "a full week before classes resume at Appalachian." David Mofford, the president of the ASU Student Government Association (who is incidentally registered to vote in Catawba County), was particularly colorful: "...to not allow students their right to vote is nothing short of a deprivation of democracy."
Whoa, dude. The BOE acted according to the law. How did it "not allow students their right to vote"? When an ASU student registers to vote in Watauga County, that student is declaring Watauga County his/her legal residence for voting purposes, and it's that voter's responsibility to deal with any inconveniences attendant on a special election date. There are a couple of legal remedies: request an absentee ballot, take advantage of more than two weeks of early voting, or make sure you're "home" on election day. The rest of us registered voters take care of these details, rescheduling vacations, writing in for an absentee ballot, setting the alarm clock.
In other words, grow up.
For students to yell "deprivation of democracy" because they've, uh, "gone home" for the summer waves a red flag about where "home" really is and furthermore sounds like whining, because it is whining, and gives aid and comfort to those people who don't want students voting at all. The Supreme Court settled the issue of where students may declare residence for purposes of voting, though the local Republican Party has a permanent case of indigestion over it. Students crying over the "inconvenience" of a special election date gives ammunition to those who really would disenfranchise you, especially in a year when Barack Obama is running.
Having said that, the people pushing for liquor by the drink were not at all confident in the outcome yesterday, which is why they too criticized the BOE for the chosen date of the election. They thought they might need the student vote. The BOE actually did them a favor, since with the referendum passing easily – and without major student involvement – their victory is much less open to the carping and backbiting that would have followed a student-fueled voter turn-out. If you catch my drift.