NC College Students Fight to Protect Voting Rights
RALEIGH, N.C. - Today, college students from across the state will converge on Raleigh to attend the State Board of Elections (BOE) meeting. At issue are recent decisions by Republican-led county Boards of Elections, including the Watauga County BOE move to close the early voting site at Appalachian State University and combine three voting precincts in the county. Students and others suspect the action was taken because the university community voted for the Democratic ticket in the last two Presidential elections.
According to Bob Phillips, executive director, Common Cause North Carolina, "If it has happened at one campus, then it can happen anywhere where early voting polling sites have been placed either on the campus or conveniently nearby."
Phillips and others also are concerned about a recent decision by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections to prevent an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for office, saying he is not a resident. The county Republican Party chairman contended that students in dorms do not qualify as residents for the purposes of voting or serving in public office.
Also upsetting to college-age voters is the recently signed voter ID legislation that restricts the use of college IDs to prove a voter's identity.
Jarius Page, a junior at Saint Augustine University, Raleigh, is among the dozens of students expected at today's meeting.
"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," Page said.
In many cases, Phillips said, voting in college marks the first time students cast a ballot.
"To make it harder for young people to vote is just beyond any kind of logic," Phillips said. "Young people are really going to be watching this very carefully and reacting to what ultimately the State Board of Elections will decide later today."
The leadership at many county election boards changed recently when Gov. McCrory appointed GOP members, which is his right as leader of the state.