Marathon State Board of Elections Meeting

A few comments regarding the marathon meeting of the NC State Board of Elections held Thursday, all day and into the night.

Issue #1. There are 33 counties in need of having the state board adjudicate their plans for early-vote hours. One can reasonably expect at least 1, and possibly, 3 persons from each county would attend-- maybe 4, if one also counts the local county director of elections. The general pubic is invited to attend and a number of NC BOE staff members will be present.

The state board’s usual board meeting room is allowed 100 persons, according to the fire marshal. If you do the math with maximum possibilities it is clear that it would be wise to have the use of a larger room. A much larger room. Rooms that I know exist in other, nearby state government buildings.

Visitors, such as myself, stood in line outside in the morning sun, as we waited for board members to be seated first. We were allowed in by groups of 5 until the room reached capacity. For a while, I stood behind a tv screen (yes, I’m short!) but fortunately it was decided that the tv could be removed.

A small section of chairs had been reserved for late arriving county board members whose counties were to come up first. When the first 6 counties had no one present to speak for them, I was allowed to take a seat--it seems grey hair has some privileges!

After reviewing the plans for 11 counties, the state board broke for lunch just before 2pm. Visitors were initially told we would have to leave the building but could, again, line up outside in the sun to await re-entry options. Fortunately, that sort of fell apart and a number of us waited, along with some media, in the air conditioned meeting room. So glad I brought along a protein bar and some tea.....

Issue #2. Several people asked me, ‘why is there no wifi here?’ But, they do have wifi, I’ve used it! ‘Well, the staff told me they don’t have it.’ For more than a year there was public wifi available, altho’ it took some time to find a staff member who could give me the password for it. Now there is none. By the time I left I didn’t have the desire to stop and ask how this had come about.

It was apparent that local elections boards had tried to follow the orders of Dallas Woodhouse in cutting African American and student access to early-vote sites. It became apparent the state board would like to approve plans that followed through on this goal but the state board felt a need to be able to rationalize those desires. Dallas was present for a while, but disappeared late afternoon.

That’s just some basics. I’ll try to add a few more details in the morning.

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Thank you so much

for sitting through this, Vicki. It was hard enough watching from home, where I could get up and go to the bathroom without losing my seat. ;)

The third issue: The board

The third issue: The board had put the 33 counties in some kind of order, a grouping that made sense somewhere along the line.

Travel time for the people located in counties farther away from Raleigh was not a factor. Jerry and Pam Williamson from Watauga left home at 4am to get here. People from the coastal counties had similar travel times.

And then they waited. All day and into the evening, in Watauga's case. Watching the board go through a goodly number of cases where no one from the county had bothered to show up. By the way, the BOE does have some snack and drink machines in the staff area, but no food is within walking distance when they have a 30 minute break.

As a curtesy to those who do travel, it would be nice to see this board call a case up for discussion, and if no one from that county is present, drop that case to the bottom of the agenda and move on to another case where local people were present. It may have served an organizational concern to make people wait around while county after county after county had their issues resolved with no local input, but a large number of citizens who made a special effort to get here were put to the test in their resolve to be a voice in their government.

And that doesn't even get into the politics of this event!!