By a unanimous vote, the State Board of Elections wisely decided not to get kicked in the rear by a Superior Court judge. Board members knew state law and federal court cases clearly were on the side of Montravias King’s ability to run for office from his dorm address at Elizabeth City State University. King’s attorney kept hammering that simple point about legitimate residency, despite repeated distractions and efforts to embarrass King or find fault with his judgment. The truth, the law, and the outcry and petition of thousands of supporters prevailed, and the young M. King is officially on the ballot for a city council seat. A Board decision against him would have been ridiculed nationwide, appealed to NC Superior Court, and quickly reversed.
Unfortunately, later in the day, the Board used its broad discretion to ignore pleas from students and the Boone City Council to overrule a decision by the Watauga County Board of Elections to jerk an Early Voting site off the campus of Appalachian State University. Board members could simple say the previous turnout in municipal elections didn’t justify providing more or better access for the 17,000+ at ASU and the surrounding area of Boone. The Republican majority of Watauga County’s Board of Elections was allowed to choose another site, much less convenient to students, faculty and ASU workers. However, in a victory for the local and state defenders of voting rights, the county elections board backed away from its previous decision to combine ASU and two other precincts and remove the Election Day polling site from the campus. That bold consolidation will receive further study, the board chair indicated – which reinforces the need for continued vigilance of local elections board meetings across the state and continued organizing to defend voting access for students and others viewed by some as second-class citizens.