After reading about changes made in Watauga County, I was prompted to write a letter to the Orange County Board of Elections after several constituents voiced concerns about decision making in other counties. Below is that letter.
Dear Members of the Orange County Board of Elections,
I am writing in response to concerns voiced to me by constituents in the Orange County community after actions taken by the Watauga County Board of Elections and the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.
This week the Watauga County Board of Elections took action, which consolidated three precincts into one large precinct numbering nearly 10,000 voters and where the polling place has only 35 parking spaces. They then took action to reduce early voting to four days and eliminated early voting at the Appalachian State University campus. All of these actions were made in secret and not shared with the Democratic member of the Board, yet the Watauga County GOP chairwoman was fully aware of the coming actions. To add insult to injury, the Board did not allow verbal comment from the public, instead opting for written comment only.
Also this week, the Pasquotank County Board of Elections invalidated an election filing stating the person running for the Elizabeth City Council, a student, was ineligible due to living on campus and thus not a permanent resident. This is despite the fact that the qualifications to run for office are the same as the ones to vote and he will be allowed to vote in this year’s elections.
It is my hope that in Orange County we can avoid these divisive actions by continuing our tradition of bipartisan decision making in which all three members of the Board of Elections, Elections Director, and the two party chairs are able to weigh in on decisions before the Board and in which everyone has buy in with transparency. Keeping our elections open and accessible to the voter should be the number one concern for the Board regardless of political affiliation, geography or status as a student. Orange County has always been a leader in conducting elections fairly and that tradition should continue regardless of ideology.
Matt Hughes, Chair
Orange County Democratic Party
CC: Tracy Reams, Director, Orange County Board of Elections
Daniel Ashley, Chair, Orange County GOP