Updated Thursday, from the Citizen-Times:
The Warren Wilson votes are important because of a voter registration mistake that forced elections officials to issue 145 campus residents provisional ballots between Nov. 1 and the end of early voting on Saturday and call for another 54 “revotes” for those who had voted before the mistake was discovered.
The mistake lies in the long-standing practice of registering students and other campus residents using the college’s main mailing address instead of the physical location of dormitories or houses.
The practice didn’t matter until this election, when Republican-led redistricting split the campus between House Districts 114 and 115 and county commissioner Districts 1 and 2.
The 199 uncounted ballots could have the biggest impact in the District 2 commissioners contest between second-place finisher Republican Christina Merrill and third-place Democrat Ellen Frost, where the spread is just 87 votes.
Read the full Citizen-Times article here: Recount looms in Buncombe County | Redistricting mistake could change tallies in commissioners election
Warren Wilson College students living on campus are dealing with an election-season hurdle: Last year’s Republican-led redistricting has put the liberal college campus in two different districts, changing the district of students who live in dorms on one side of Warren Wilson Road.
According to Xpress, 1000 ballots are in question. The Citizen-Times reports that only 55 voters are affected.
Backstory here from Mountain Xpress:
As part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, the sprawling campus was divided into two separate Statehouse and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners districts last year by the N.C. General Assembly. For many years prior, the registered voting address for students and faculty living on the school campus was the same — 701 Warren Wilson Road — which corresponds to the college’s mail facility. Voters living on the campus used that address in the May primary – the first election held after the lines were redrawn.
However, on Oct. 31, after more than a week of early voting had passed, school officials were informed that the mailing facility was no longer a valid address for voter registration for those living on campus. Instead, the Board of Elections said it must determine the address of each student’s dormitory in order to provide them with the correct ballot, according to an email sent to students Nov. 1 by Cathy Kramer, the school’s dean of service.
Due to last year’s redistricting by the N.C. General Assembly, the Buncombe County Board of Elections is charged with administering more than 20 different ballots in different parts of the county. The process led to “a lot of changes to the database,” says Parker. “The database is huge. We tried our best to find every little residence that was supposed to go on the right side. And occasionally we miss something,” she adds.
Read the full article from Xpress here.
The college has responded. The response from Dean of Service Cathy Kramer is below.
We have continued to work with the Board of Elections to clarify how Warren Wilson students will vote and have their votes counted given the confusion about the campus now being in two different districts. For tomorrow, election day, students should go to the precinct that corresponds to their physical home on campus. All those living on the north side of Warren Wilson Road (Sage Circle, Ballfields, etc.) will vote at WD Williams School. All those living on the south side of the road (Village, Vining, Sunderland) will vote at the Swannanoa Bee Tree Fire Station. Students will be asked to give the name of the residence hall that they live in and then a change of address will be processed and you will be given a regular (not provisional) ballot. Your votes will be counted as all others cast in the election.
We will run a shuttle on a continuous loop leaving from Gladfelter and stopping at both polling places. The shuttle will run between 7:00 am and 7:15 pm and since it will be on a loop, just wait at Gladfelter. During peak times, 11:00-1:00 and 4:00-7:15, we will run multiple vehicles so no one should have to wait too long.
If you voted early before last Wednesday, you were given a regular ballot. Those submitted from our address were then reviewed and if you received the correct ballot your vote will be counted as part of the regular election process. If you received the wrong ballot, you should have been sent the correct one to fill out and re-submit. If you early voted from last Wednesday on, you received a provisional ballot and your ballot will be reviewed beginning on Wednesday after the election. If it is the correct ballot, it will be submitted for the final vote count. If it is the wrong ballot, your votes in races not related to the difference in district will be counted and your votes for those that are district specific (state legislature and county commissioner) will be thrown out.
I know this process has been confusing and frustrating, but we are staying focused on the goal of getting students out to vote and having your votes counted. I hope that in some (maybe twisted) way, this can help us all appreciate and exercise our right to vote as active participants in this imperfect democracy that is our community.
One more note: If you receive a call or email directly from the news media regarding the Warren Wilson voting situation, please contact media relations director Ben Anderson at 771-3758 or firstname.lastname@example.org so that he can help with a reply that includes the most up-to-date information.
Please let me know if you have questions and if you do experience any difficulties at the polls tomorrow, call me at 828-318-3558.
Dean of Service
Warren Wilson College