Yep. It's so downright amazing that even Rachel Maddow picked it up.
Monday at 9AM was the first time the new and not-so-improved Watauga County Board of Elections met, a Board now controlled by Republican Tea Partiers (2-1) with a clear mission to suppress any and all suspected progressive votes in time for the upcoming municipal elections, especially for the Town of Boone, the county seat. And to do it undercover as fast as possible.
While the meeting had originally been scheduled for a large room in the County's Administration building, the Republicans quickly changed the location to a small Board room in the elections office in an effort to discourage public attendance. Didn't work. Before the two Republicans were forced to move meeting, as required by law in light of all the people there to witness the travesty, just wet your whistle with what went down at the start. Seriously. Take a look at this. It will blow your mind.
There's a lot of local backstory associated with this story, but the short and skinny is that these two meathead Republican Board members came to the meeting with a prepared-but clearly-not-by-them Tea Party agenda to:
1. Eliminate the Appalachian State University (ASU) early one-stop voting site.
2. Force all early voting into one location hard to access by students, faculty, and staff at ASU.
3. Outlaw any verbal public comment at Board meetings and require that written comments be screened to ensure they were "pertinent" and communicated without cussing or libel.
4. Require that the 27-year Elections Board Director, a woman totally on the straight up and beloved by the entire county, not be allowed to meet with anyone in her office without supervision.
5. Mandate that anyone calling into the local BOE office have their names recorded.
6. Move the "New River" precinct (a heavily populated precinct in and around the town of Boone) out into the very corner of the precinct into a virtually unknown location and as far away from municipal voters as possible.
7. Combine three Boone precincts into one Super Precinct consisting of 9,300 voters and 35 parking spaces. Oh. And away as far as possible from ASU.
The crowd of 60 plus (considerable for our little Town) was pissed as hell. We're talking screaming, yelling, booing, "shame on you," "what are you trying to hide,".... At one point one of the Republican meatheads threatened to have the public arrested. The response from the crowd was an immediate "bring it on." Here's the initial local press account.
If you've got an hour, grab a cup of coffee (or a beer and an sandwich) and check out the video from the rest of the meeting. It's. worth. every. inch. of. your. time. But I can't embed it.
Now let's face it. A lot of small county Democratic parties would just give it all up right then and there. Afterall, what good would an appeal to the State Board of Elections do? That Board, appointed by Governor McCrory (in other words Art Pope) is also controlled by right-wingers, bent on not just drowning state progressives, but chopping them off at the head first.
Unfortunately for them our local Democratic Party just by nature ain't so inclined to go quietly into that good night. And before they can chop off our heads, we're determined to drag them to shore for all to see.
We've put 24/7 into fighting back against all odds, and while we know that in the end we are unlikely to be able to overturn the local Board's decision, we are still at it. The lone Democrat on the Board, Kathleen Campbell, has put in a petition to the state. The NAACP is now looking into our fight, and Common Cause has formally urged Governor McCrory to get involved. After all, he said earlier this week that it was wrong for partisan politics to be a factor in selecting precincts. The Mayor of Boone has written a scathing letter to the Chairman of the State Board of Elections.
We're bringing the evil into the light anywhere and everywhere.
And thanks to Rachel Maddow for putting our fight on the national map.
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We're not going to make this one easy for them.
High Country Press: "After ‘So Many Comments’ State Board of Elections Reviewing Monday’s Watauga Elections Board Meeting"
The Watauga Democrat: "Elections board actions draw criticism"
Winston-Salem Journal: "State elections officials review Watauga complaints"
The State (South Carolina): "NC elections boards move to curtail student voting"
Think Progress: "North Carolina Localities Double Down On Student Voter Suppression"
Asheville Citizen Times: "Watauga moves quickly to suppress App State voting"