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Bill Aceto, secretary of the Watauga County Board of Elections, shares his views at a board meeting in Boone. File photo.

Originally published: 2013-10-12 09:09:18
Last modified: 2013-10-12 09:19:01

Aceto asks SBOE to dismiss complaints

Board of Elections Secretary Bill Aceto has asked the state board to dismiss a complaint against him filed Tuesday by three local Democrats, saying it fails to allege any violation of election law.

In sworn response to the N.C. Board of Elections on Friday, Aceto reacts to the complaint seeking to remove him and Chairman Luke Eggers from the Watauga County board for "official misconduct, participation in intentional irregularities, unethical actions, and incapacity and incompetency to discharge the duties of their offices."

The complaint, made by Stella Anderson, Jesse Presnell and Ian O'Keefe, sought a hearing on a variety of concerns about the Republicans' actions on the board during the last three months. Those included claims about meeting minutes, interaction with the minority board member and the elections director, the selection of polling places and numerous other topics.

In his three-page response, Aceto first defends the board's one-stop early voting plan, which removed an early voting site from the ASU campus, and the placement of the New River 3 polling place, which the board moved from the National Guard Armory to Mutton Crossing.

"It is my goal to ensure accessibility to the polls for all eligible voters, establish appropriate electioneering buffers and comply with all statutory requirements," Aceto wrote. "It is very important to me that the County Board of Elections and its staff remain politically neutral and not be used as a pawn by either political party for gain or advantage."

Among the complaints raised in the petitioners' complaint was the fact that the board majority did not share the actual resolutions to be considered at the Aug. 12 meeting with Kathleen Campbell, the sole Democrat on the board.

Aceto said in his response that a notice of the meeting specified all topics to be considered, suggesting that would be sufficient to fulfill the board's legal requirements.

"I was provided with a copy of the resolutions which were presented for consideration at the same time as Ms. Campbell," Aceto wrote.

The petitioners also claimed that Aceto made partisan statements in July to a Boone municipal candidate, saying he and Eggers were "getting ready to take the gloves off" in a challenge to the person's candidacy.

Aceto said those allegations were "simply false."

He also called false the claims that he and Eggers implemented a plan to hinder the voting rights of Appalachian State University students and staff and that he and Eggers conferred outside open meetings on the topics.

It's not clear whether Egger also has responded to the complaint. He did not return a telephone message by press time Saturday.

Aceto's response also fired back at repeated insinuations by Democrats that he and Eggers are puppets controlled by Eggers' brother, county attorney Four Eggers.

"Both Luke Eggers and myself are graduates of Appalachian State University," Aceto wrote. "We are both fully capable of forming our own independent opinions on all matters which have come before the board, or which may come before the board."