|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.
However inconvenient they make it, it's time to VOTE OUT THE REPUBLICANS. Their voter suppression tactics are unAmerican.
The state board is responsible, by statute, for fixing the problem. After a Board has considered one or more plans (which is exactly what happened last night), and if they are unable to reach a unanimous decision (which is exactly what happened last night), the state board can entertain competing plans and decide to adopt one or the other or a combination of both or choose one of their own. The CBE office cannot possibly accommodate the early voters expected in November. In the best of circumstances, there would be upwards of 12 hour waits. In the more predictable turnout models, those who would be in line at 5PM would still be in line at 5PM 24 hours later. There's also the matter of a Judge's order that there has to be a site at ASU. It's on the state Board at this point. I am sure they are aware it's their responsibility to get this right.
Video of the Watauga BOE meeting last night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb19SX65VQk
Such hypocrisy. When the democrats controlled the BOE they did everything in their power to close the small rural voting places and force people to drive miles, through Tennessee and back into NC, to vote. Obviously, their intent was to discourage voting by rural republicans. When republicans complained democrats sniffed their nose and laughed. Now that they are recieving the same treatment democrats whine. It seems to me that both sides need to stop their juvenile behaviour and, working together, come up with a plan in which everyone, college students and rural residents, are encouraged to vote.
That's weak, Mr. Wilson, and a gross misrepresentation. Years ago, a suggestion by the Executive Director of the Watauga Board of Elections to close the North Fork precinct was considered and rejected. Usually, fewer than 100 people ever vote in North Fork, and the Exec Dir thought it a misappropriation of limited funds to continue a fully staffed polling operation there and suggested those voters could go to Meat Camp. I repeat: that didn't happen.
So your claim of multiple "rural voting places" under threat of closure is just flat out misrepresentation uttered for prejudicial reasons, as are the words "everything in their power." Democrats controlled the BOE at that time and had the power. They did not exercise it to disenfranchise anyone.
Your side did and still does.
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