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Appalachian State voting center now to be held inside nightclub

Students at Appalachian State University will soon be bringing their ballots to a bring-your-own-beer nightclub on campus.

Last week, the Watauga Board of Elections voted to move the on-campus polling site for the November municipal elections from ASU’s student union to the on-campus nightclub, Legends.

The decision came a day after the State Board of Elections upheld the Watauga board’s controversial decision to eliminate one-stop early voting for the municipal elections from ASU’s campus, and urged the county board to start working together.

Dylan Russell, ASU student body president, said he was excited there would be a voting site on campus — but he was disappointed it would no longer be in the union.

Although the Watauga Board of Elections said the move from the student union to Legends made the polling site more accessible, Russell said the change could discourage potential voters.

“Some of our community members are conservative, and some of them are not comfortable voting where Budweiser is hanging out,” he said.

The new polling site is also poorly equipped, said Jocelyn Hunt, ASU student and director of state relations for the UNC-system Association of Student Governments. The club has no backup generator.

“I don’t understand … why we’re moving the site farther away,” she said.

The two Republican members of the three-person Watauga board voted to move the site to Legends, said Kathleen Campbell, the sole Democrat.

“It’s our opinion that this is an attempt to suppress the vote of the student population,” she said.

Last week, the State Board overturned the Pasquotank County Board of Elections’ decision to bar an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for office.

But Robert Nunnery, ASG president, said Watauga County’s reversal was encouraging. At its last meeting, the association passed a resolution asking the state board to keep student voting accessible.

The resolution will go through its third and final reading at the association’s meeting this weekend.

The ASU student government will push for changes for the 2014 elections, Russell said.

But for now, he said he’s focused on informing students about voting changes.

Campbell said it won’t be easy.

“I think it’s going to be a bitter fight,” she said. “In my opinion, this is just a precursor of things to come.”

But she said students will become more determined to vote against Republicans.

“The students get pissed off, and they decide they’re going to vote, no matter what happens,” Campbell said.

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