Sherwood Endorses NAACP Plan for Early Voting in Watauga County

Calls ongoing GOP efforts to limit one-stop voting locations and hours ‘shameful’

August 17, 2016

BOONE, N.C. Art Sherwood, the Democratic candidate for North Carolina Senate District 45, today announced his endorsement of the One Stop Early Voting Plan put forward by the Watauga County branch of the NAACP. The plan offered by the NAACP was received without comment or vote by the Watauga County Board of Elections on Aug. 15 at a public hearing here. The board also failed to vote on either plan put forth by board members because neither plan received a second.

Art Sherwood

Art Sherwood

This was the second time in a month that the issue has been before the Board. The first time, the board was unable to reach a unanimous decision, forcing the decision to the State Board of Elections in Raleigh. It ended up back in Boone with the Watauga Board of Elections because of the recent federal court ruling that North Carolina’s Voter ID law is unconstitutional.

Sherwood explained, “I endorse the One Stop Early Voting plan put forth by the NAACP. The reason is simple – the organization’s plan will maximize voting opportunities.” It calls for a 17 day One-Stop Early Voting period with voting hours being 8:00 am – 6:30 pm weekdays, Saturdays 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Sundays 1:00 – 6:00 pm. The group proposed six locations across Watauga County, including: Plemmons Student Union on the campus of Appalachian State University (ASU); Watauga County Administration Building; Blowing Rock Town Hall; Western Watauga Community Center; Deep Gap Fire Department; and, the Meat Camp Fire Department.

The early voting location at (ASU) is the point of contention. Students, faculty and the chancellor want it at the Plemmons Student Union, as more than 15,000 early voters used that location in 2012. Republican Chairman Bill Aceto opposed using the student union as he did last month. He offered no reason, only saying, “I have my concerns.”

Approximately 140 citizens were in attendance at the public hearing. Of the 16 or so people who spoke regarding the early voting issue, all expressed opposition to the plan proposed by Aceto. The plan proposed by Stella Anderson, the board’s lone Democrat, included the student union and also allowed for more one-stop voting locations and longer hours. All of the speakers supported it in various degrees. Republican Nancy Owen is the third member; she offered no proposal.

“This ongoing effort by the GOP to suppress voting is shameful,” argued Sherwood. He observed, “Following the meeting, many students were visibly upset. So were area residents who live in rural areas and need the multiple one-stop voting locations. It is simply unfathomable that two appointed officials would ignore a room full of people merely seeking to exercise their most fundamental right – many for the first time!”

Sherwood contended, “It is clear the Republican Party intends to ignore the recent ruling out of the Fourth Circuit and use county Boards of Election to suppress votes. I am forced to conclude that the GOP is afraid of people voting. Elections are about ideas. They are about people. If the Republicans have confidence in their policies and their candidates, they would be working to make sure every person possible voted. This tactic is quite telling. I support those, such as the Watauga County NAACP, who do not intend to let this effort at voter nullification stand.”

Since no plan was approved, the decision now goes to the North Carolina Board of Elections. According to officials with the Watauga County Board of Elections, they have until Friday to submit paperwork to Raleigh. Sometime after that, the state board will schedule a hearing.

Sherwood concluded, “As I said when I released my position paper on voting rights, ‘I believe the people deserve better. They deserve representatives in Raleigh who will vigorously defend their voting rights, not come up with schemes to nullify voting rights. It is my view that elected officials are charged with representing all of the people.’ The same is true for the appointed members of the Watauga County Board of Elections.”

Senate District 45 includes five counties – Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Watauga. Sherwood is a resident of Caldwell County. The General Election will be held on November 8.

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Contact the Campaign

To speak with Art Sherwood, please call (828) 434-0563. To speak with Campaign Manager Michael Barrick, please call (828) 434-8520.

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