Nov 3 / Erin Ferns Lee

Ballots in Question for Students at Liberal N.C. College

Update 11/6/12: Attorneys from Project Vote sent a letter to election officials in Buncombe County, as well as to the State Board of Elections, expressing concern over the possible disenfranchisement of more than 1,000 students, faculty, and staff members who reside at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa. More here.

Just days before Election Day, 1,000 registered voters residing on “the most liberal college” in the nation were informed that they were no longer considered registered to vote at their address.

Some who had voted early just learned that their ballots were canceled.

The confusion at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. began yesterday with a letter from the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Mountain Xpress has more on the story:

“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.”

Students, faculty, and staff who reside on campus are forced to vote provisional ballots, which would not be counted until it is confirmed that they voted the correct ballot according to their updated address.

“The fact that students received this information four days before the election is incredibly suspicious, as is the fact that this issue did not come up in the primary,” said Warren Wilson Professor Ben Feinberg.”Voter suppression is not just preventing people from voting, but creating a climate of confusion that discourages people from voting.”

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