Sep 092013

Patrick Nelson

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Other Voices

Scott Mooneyham writes about North Carolina politics. I felt that his Aug. 23 column in The Daily Reflector warranted a response.

In his column, he laments a decision by the Forsyth County Board of Elections to eliminate an early voting site at Winston-Salem State University. He also writes of actions taken by the two Republican members of the Watauga County board. Their decision to eliminate an early voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University did not sit well with Mooneyham, nor did it sit well with Democratic board member Kathleen Campbell, an ASU professor. Mooneyham also takes the Watauga board members to task for requiring that public comments at board meetings be submitted in written form.

While Mooneyham may not approve of these actions they are within the law. In his no-holds-barred attack on the Watauga County board Mooneyham said, “Amazingly enough the board’s chairman is named Bill Aceto and not Mullah Omar.”

That comment was quite revealing on two counts. First of all, the Watauga board chairman is not Bill Aceto. It is Luke Eggers. This is proof that facts mean little to Mooneyham. Secondly, his comment proves that civility means little to him.

Over the year,s the Democratic Party has used their majority on election boards to their advantage. I should know. Several times I was out voted by my two Democratic colleagues over early voting plans in Pitt County. Did I like it? No. Was it legal? Yes.

I wasn’t pleased last year when a representative of the Obama campaign came to several board meetings lecturing the board on their preferred early-voting plan, which included a site on the East Carolina University campus. At the meeting on July 24, 2012, the Pitt County Board of Elections voted for a plan that included “a site on the ECU campus” without specifying where on campus the location would be.

I was not altogether opposed to a site on campus, but I insisted that it should be a site that was easily accessible to all county residents, not just students and faculty. I voted in favor of a site at Minges Coliseum for the May primary last year because it was easily accessible to all voters by turning off Charles Boulevard.

Minges was unavailable, however, for the general election in November due to construction. When my fellow board members voted for “a site on campus” without further specifications I abstained, sending the decision to the five-member State Board of Elections.

I attended the meeting of the state board in Raleigh. I asked them how they could vote for a plan that included a “site on ECU campus” without specifying where on campus it would be. The plan made no mention of voter accessibility or curbside voting ,which are legal requirements. The three Democrats voted for it and the two Republicans voted against. As a result, Pitt County taxpayers paid $7,901.42 to have a site on the second floor of Mendenhall Student Center, a site that owed its existence to partisan politics. Why didn’t Mooneyham write an article about this?

Last month, I was honored to be elected by my two colleagues as chairman. I cannot guarantee that every citizen will always agree with my decisions, but I can promise you that every decision will be made above board and with the best interest of Pitt County voters and taxpayers at heart.

Patrick Nelson is chairman of the Pitt County Board of Elections.

via The Daily Reflector.


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