Oh, The Drama In Watauga

Well, WRAL has shown itself to be a shining example of media bias yet again with its latest headline: Watauga elections board scrubs meeting minutes.  Super professional Laura Leslie reported:

Boone, N.C. — Parts of the minutes of a recent meeting of the Watauga County Board of Elections have been deleted at the request of the chairman, a move that a media attorney says invites legal challenges.

On Aug. 12, the two newly appointed Republican members of the board made big changes to Watauga County’s voting plans with no advance notice.

Over the objections of Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democratic board member, they voted to remove the early voting site on the Appalachian State University campus – about 5,000 voters used that site in 2012 – and consolidate the school’s Election Day precinct into a so-called “super precinct” of 9,000 voters, which is far larger than state law allows.

Luke Eggers, the new chairman of the elections board, said the changes would streamline voting and save money. County elections director Jane Ann Hodges disputed Eggers’ claims.

Oh the poor ‘lone Democrat’. I can almost hear the violins in the distance. Why do you suppose she is the lone Democrat, Laura?  The WRAL article went on to champion the ‘lone Democrat’ and included some of Campbell’s theatrics:

“In what ways have you two not violated the open meetings law?” Campbell asked before the revised minutes were approved. “You boys should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Yes, shame on you… WRAL for only reporting one side. Again.  Ms. Campbell is the one who should be ashamed of herself:

Unfortunately, there are indications around the state that Democrats are not ready to let go of their power and the old way of doing things. Two recent county board of elections meetings looked more like “Moral” Monday protests than a county board meeting.

The Watauga County Board of Elections meeting took place on August 12, with a newly appointed Republican member. The lone Democratic member, Kathleen Campbell, cursed throughout the meeting and condescendingly called the Republican board members, Bill Aceto and Luke Eggers, “boys”. And just like Mondays at the legislature, the attendees at this meeting screamed and booed and chanted throughout the meeting. – Source: Civitas

I can hear the complaints now. Oh, she’s citing Civitas. Must be a lie because.. Art Pope.. Koch Brothers!!!  Sigh.

Well, since WRAL can’t be bothered to show you how it went down, I’ll do it:

Well, you sure told those ‘boys’, Ms. Campbell! I applaud those ‘boys’ for putting up with your theatrical and condescending mother-hen crap. When you dismount from your high-horse, let us know. I am sure Moral Monday can finish beating it to death for you. This whole charade of hers is about helping students vote — for Democrats.

High County Press puts a fine point on it; emphasis added:

Shenanigans have been the staple of the Democratic-controlled Board of Elections.  These will have to be remedied, particularly on the ASU Campus.  The main case in point is the North Carolina law regarding residency of college students.  Case law in North Carolina provides the legal presumption that college students are not domiciled in the college town to which they go.  It is a rebut-able presumption that can be overcome with the greater weight of the evidence.  Case law also provides that the person alleging the change of domicile (the student) bears the burden of proof in providing evidence of the change.  Proof could be a North Carolina driver’s license or form ID or bill that bears the name of the voter and his new address.  Most often students do not change their addresses.  They go home on weekends and on Christmas because they have not abandoned their domicile.

North Carolina Election Law provides that there are four prongs to changing residency:

–Abandon the first domicile with intent

–not to return to it,

–acquire a new domicile with intent of

–making the new domicile a permanent home.

Dorms at ASU are temporary housing for students.  Their rights of visitors are limited and they are not allowed to have spouses or children live with them.  Specifically, students residing in campus housing at ASU cannot make this a permanent home, as required by election law.

While this is the law in North Carolina, the North Carolina State Board of Elections [NCSBOE] under Democratic administrations has practically provided that students have a duty to register on campus.  Democratic NCSBOE policies have relaxed the laws for students registering to vote at One Stop, thereby creating a special class of voters.

All of the above will have to change.  Here is to hoping that the WCGOP/ECM will have the foresight and the fortitude to do the right thing tonight.

Students have a right to vote, and a responsibility to abide by the rules.  It is unfortunate that the Democratic-controlled Board of Elections has for years broken the rules.

And they need that help getting more Democrat votes. Out of 15,776 registered voters in Watauga County only 1,424 (9.03 percent) cast ballots in the 2011 Municipal elections. In the 2012 general election, 27,855 ballots were cast out of 44, 865 registered voters; roughly 61%. Romney still won Watauga very handily – as did many Republican candidates.

Of note, Watauga was one of the 8 counties to oppose Amendment One.

UPDATE 8/28/13:

As I pointed out in my original article above, the ‘lone Democrat’ wasn’t really concerned with early voting for voters at large, but instead the student vote.  My point is confirmed and solidified here: The Facts Behind the Watauga County Elections Changes

Excerpts:

Statistics don’t lie: Overall, the one-stop sites in the last two municipal elections provided voting for less than three people an hour. The new majority on the Watauga BOE recognized that the county’s money could be better spent on things other than adding an additional one-stop, early voting site just a mile away from the statutorily mandated one.

                                               ****

The Democratic member and the crowd took offense to not opening a polling place and the one-stop, early voting site on campus in November. What this means is that students, in this municipal election, will now have to walk, ride or drive about a mile to the closest voting site at the Watauga County Administration Building for early voting or the Agricultural Conference Center on Election Day. Looking at the whole situation, this is hardly a terrible burden. In any case, voting officials have to consider the needs of everybody, not just one select group.

 

Related Reading:

HB 589 Information/History (2013-2014 Session)

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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