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Originally published: 2013-08-17 15:32:49
Last modified: 2013-08-17 15:36:38

Board member appeals early voting plan

The lone Democrat on the Watauga County Board of Elections has appealed an early voting plan approved this week that eliminates the early voting site at Appalachian State University.

Kathleen Campbell said she worked quickly Thursday to compile a letter, maps, photographs and other documentation to support her proposal, which she sent via FedEx to meet the Friday deadline for consideration.

"Our plan pretty much is to reinstate the older plan, but we justified it because in the statute, it says it has to be justified demographically, geographically and with regard to partisanship, so we made an effort to do that," Campbell said.

Campbell said she worked with former board chairwoman Stella Anderson and other Democrats to make her case.

Staff of the State Board of Elections could not be reached by presstime as to when the board might rule on the conflicting plans.

The local board voted 2-1 Monday that Watauga County would have only one early voting site at the Watauga County Commissioners' Board Room starting this fall.

In prior years, early voting has occurred at the Watauga County Courthouse and at the ASU Plemmons Student Union.

Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges said money had been budgeted this year for both sites. Early voting also was held last year at the Foscoe Fire Department due to the presidential race.

The board also voted 2-1 to recombine the Boone precincts into one with a polling place at the Agricultural Conference Center, eliminating the Election Day polling places at the Watauga County Commissioners' Board Room and the ASU Plemmons Student Union. Those actions were not part of the early voting plan Campbell could appeal, although she said they were mentioned in her letter.

Campbell, who lambasted the two Republicans on Monday for not providing her with information about the agenda, said she had not spoken with Chairman Luke Eggers or Secretary Bill Aceto about her plans.

"This is the first I have heard of an appeal or a revision to the plan," Aceto said in an email Friday.
"The majority of the people I have spoken to about the changes have agreed and feel the changes make sense."

Eggers did not respond to an email seeking comments by presstime.

The board meets next at 9 a.m. Tuesday to approve minutes and appoint precinct officials.

"We're hoping this is going to be a very low-key meeting," Hodges said.