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Originally published: 2013-10-21 15:56:24
Last modified: 2013-10-22 11:54:59

Democrats plea: Remove Aceto, Eggers

by Kellen Short

Three local Democrats are continuing to ask the State Board of Elections to hold a hearing regarding the county elections board's actions, opposing a request to dismiss their complaint.


In an Oct. 8 petition, Stella Anderson, Jesse Presnell and Ian O'Keefe asked the State Board of Elections to remove Watauga County Board of Elections members Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto. They alleged "official misconduct, participation in intentional irregularities, unethical actions, and incapacity and incompetency to discharge the duties of their offices."


Aceto responded Oct. 11, asking the State Board of Elections to dismiss the complaint because it failed to state any violation of law.


On Thursday, the petitioners wrote once more to the state board, reiterating their request for a hearing and claiming that Aceto had lied in his responses.


"Most of our allegations do not rise to the level of criminal behavior," the response states. "Having said that, we believe that Mr. Aceto has perjured himself with his sworn response, which contains multiple falsehoods, and we respectfully request that you refer this matter to the North Carolina Attorney General's office for appropriate action."


They also asked that the state board subpoena Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges, board member Kathleen Campbell, Presnell, Clerk of Court Diane Cornett Deal, County Attorney Four Eggers and GOP Chairwoman Anne-Marie Yates.


"We are aware that the rules of the board allow it to consider a case on affidavits, but in a case such as this, involving a systematic and widespread abuse of authority, we believe that such process is wholly inadequate and that the board cannot get a clear picture of the circumstances leading to the petition without a full hearing with key witnesses present who can testify under oath," the letter states.


Aceto addressed the new filing in an email Monday.


"My response speaks for itself, and the community organizers (petitioners) haven't raised any new issues," he wrote. "At this point I am going to let the SBOE process take its course, and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment any further."


Absent from the back-and-forth conversation is the State Board of Elections, which has not responded to questions about whether a hearing will be held.


General Counsel Don Wright did not answer the question when asked by email, and Executive Director Kim Strach has not responded to multiple messages during the last several weeks.


A message left Monday for State Board Chairman Josh Howard has not yet been returned.