Yesterday, North Carolina’s State elections board made decisions on two controversial voting rights cases that significantly affect college students.
The first decision was to allow Montravias King, an Elizabeth City State University student, to run for a city council seat. He was originally disqualified from running because Pasquotank County Republican Party Chairman Richard “Pete” Gilbert challenged that King could not use his on-campus dorm address to establish residency. The State elections board decided unanimously to allow him to run for the seat representing the campus.
The second case the elections board examined was the closing of an early voting and general election polling place at Appalachian State University by the Watauga County Board of Elections in Boone. The Watauga board had also combined three precincts into one voting site with only 35 parking spots to accommodate those of 9,300 voters. This site is a mile from the university campus on a road with no sidewalks. Students suspect the Republican-controlled boards made these changes to make it harder for students to vote, because the university community voted for the Democratic ticket in the last two presidential elections. In the hearing yesterday, the state board voted 4-1 to uphold these changes.
Watauga County Democrat Kathleen Campbell said, “To eliminate the most popular and most accessible voting location is to deliberately disenfranchise a major segment of the voting population.”
College students from all over North Carolina attended the meeting to voice their opinions. “We have a voice in our community, and it’s important that we be heard, because it’s our future. I believe that we should have a say,” said Jarius Page, a junior at Saint Augustine University, Raleigh.