Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watauga Voting Rights: In the Hands of People "Without a Moral Compass"

From right: Aceto, Eggers, Hodges, and Campbell
The real news from yesterday's Watauga County Board of Elections meeting was the small window opened on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the Republican Chair of the Board, Luke Eggers.

According to Democratic member Kathleen Campbell, who based her statement on information received from elections Director Jane Anne Hodges, Chair Eggers was willing to allow the staff to place a transfer voting station at Legends on the Appalachian State University campus so long as fellow Republican member of the board Bill Aceto didn't find out.

Director Hodges has long been the decider on where transfer stations go on election day, because she knows best where there are likely to be voters "out of precinct." And there has been a transfer station on the ASU campus for years, until this year, when The Brothers Grim, Eggers and Aceto, took control of that option and forbade Hodges from putting a transfer station at ASU.

Transfer voting: allows a duly registered and qualified voter to cast a regular ballot out of precinct ... because they're confused about where to go, because they're lost, because they go to a precinct polling place they're familiar with even after they've moved their residence within the city. Without transfer voting, a confused voter is required to cast what's called a "provisional" ballot, which takes much longer because of niggling paperwork and takes much longer to process and count after the election is over.

Disallowing a transfer station on the ASU campus is just another species of college student voter suppression. Just because it's more subtle and considerably below the radar screen of the public doesn't make it smell any sweeter.

Now then. It's major news that Eggers was prepared to allow the transfer station behind Aceto's back. Why? (Why indeed.) Eggers has also never said a word in response to the charges against his administration of the Board brought by former Chair of the Board Stella Anderson, charges that the State Board of Elections continues to sit on. Aceto made a public response, inadequate as that document proved to be. But Eggers has said nothing.

Andrew Cox, The Appalachian
It's also worth noting the tiresome fact that Eggers' willingness to allow Hodges to place a transfer voting station at the Legends polling place was quickly rescinded. Two possible explanations for that: (1) Bill Aceto found out; (2) Luke's big brother and the Puppet Master of the Board, "Four" Eggers found out. Either way, the putative Chair of the Watauga Board of Elections is a weak reed and not the person who should be in charge of protecting the voting rights of Watauga County citizens.

All of this provoked Board member Kathleen Campbell to say at yesterday's meeting, sitting not three feet away from Luke Eggers, "I would tell you that you should be ashamed, but I know now from working with you over the last few months that you have no shame."

What did Luke Eggers say back to her, what did Luke Eggers do after that verbal dressing-down? Did his face turn purple with rage? Did he forcibly deny Campbell's charges of facilitating voter suppression? Did he in any way demonstrate to the public that was listening that he does indeed possess "a moral compass," equipment that Campbell said he lacks?

No. Luke Eggers sat there impassively, like a coleus plant wilted by a freeze, and said nothing, except "Is there a second to Ms. Campbell's motion."

I call that tacit acknowledgement and acceptance that what Campbell said about him was true. He lacks a moral compass.

NOTE: Good coverage of the meeting by Jesse Wood in the High Country Press, including documents he obtained by public records request (especially the letter from State Board general counsel Don Wright agreeing with Hodges that there should be a transfer voting station at Legends).

No comments: