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College students fight for vote
Activists urge greater ballot access
Published Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:39 pm
by Stephanie Carson, N.C. News Service

RALEIGH – College students from across the state converged on the State Board of Elections meeting on Tuesday.

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 of 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.
“We have a voice in our community, and it’s important that we be heard, because it’s our future,” St. Augustine’s University junior Jarius Page said. “I believe that we should have a say.”

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. Pat McCrory appointed GOP members, which is his right as leader of the state.


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