The Watauga County Board of Elections previously voted on five early voting sites, none of which were located on campus — raising concerns about voter access for the May 6 primary elections.
Kathleen Campbell, the lone Democrat of the three members of the Watauga County Board of Elections, called the measure an act of voter suppression and attributed the act to the brothers Stacy Eggers IV, Watauga’s county attorney, and Luke Eggers, a Board of Elections member.
“Since they have been in office with me, they have been endlessly playing games and saying this is all for the good of the people — even though when they finally met and allowed the people to come to a hearing, almost all the people who came ... wanted a site at the ASU student union,” Campbell said.
Stacy Eggers IV has often written resolutions that Luke Eggers introduces to the board, which Campbell said are written in complex legal jargon.
Joshua Lawson, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said the decision to reaffirm the move was reached after hearing arguments from the parties for more than an hour and reviewing numerous documents, maps and other exhibits.
“(The board) looks forward to broad participation by students and members of the community throughout Watauga,” he said in an email.
Dylan Russell, ASU student body president, criticized the move.
“I personally believe that any revision to voting policies and procedures should only serve to make voting more accessible,” Russell said. “The Watauga County local Board of Elections’ decision does not do that. I find that decision to be deeply troubling because voting is a basic, fundamental and civic right, and we should be encouraging that as much as possible.”
There will be an early voting site located at the Watauga County Administration Building, located near the Appalachian State campus, but Campbell said the walk to and from the voting site will be time consuming and would potentially decrease voter turnout for both students and university employees.
“I would say this is politically motivated,” Campbell said. “If you just look at the evidence the same thing is happening across the state. Nowhere in the state have (Republicans) allowed voting on the campus — they’ve taken it away. The same is true for a lot of other states.”
Earlier this month the Orange County Board of Elections decided to move the early voting site at UNC-CH from Rams Head Dining Hall off campus to North Carolina Hillel.
While Russell said voting will be harder for ASU students without the student union site, student voices will still be heard.
“We plan, come Election Day, that our student voice will be heard on campus because the fact of the matter is Appalachian State students are caring, thoughtful members of society, and ultimately, they want to vote,” Russell said.
“It’ll just be a little harder, but we’ll get their voice out.”