|Owen & Aceto, last night.|
Photo Lonnie Webster
Republican BOE member Nancy Owen, a mere tool who has obviously been kept out of the loop in the past and was expected to vote with Board Chair Bill Aceto on cue, had been coached. Owen, who's been as silent as a stump in past meetings, suddenly had her speeches prepared: I will second no Early Voting plan, neither Republican nor Democratic, because we will not be unanimous in our decision, Owen declared.
Without a second for either majority or minority plan, without a vote, according to the scheming of County Attorney Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), Early Voting defaults to the county BOE office, and there's not one thing the State Board of Elections can do about it. That's his theory anyway.
Try to get an expected 17,000 people who want to cast early ballots into that tiny office on the first floor of the County Courthouse, and see how the people will love you, Mr. Eggers!
Republican Party Chair Anne Marie Yates is happy. Her base of support lives in the rural precincts, and they are accustomed to voting on election day. Long lines don't develop on election day in those precincts. Or they vote by mail, which has always been a more popular choice among Republicans than Democrats (which is precisely why the monster elections rewrite passed by the General Assembly in 2013 left absentee voting alone! No need for a photo I.D. there!)
The reporter for the Watauga Democrat, although he captured the tone of the meeting, really missed the headline: Early Voting is dead in Watauga County for the fall elections, killed off by partisans who'll gladly inconvenience thousands for the sake of discouraging the college-student vote. That's how desperate Four Eggers is to keep his job and his billable hours as county attorney.
The State Board of Elections cannot escape responsibility for this outcome. It is now on them to fix this. If they do nothing -- which is what Four Eggers is counting on -- I pity the fools.