Editor’s note: On April 11, Betsy Meads, a Pasquotank County resident, sent an email to sponsors of SB 666 – Sens. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort), Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret) and Ronald Rabin (R-Harnett). Her email is informative and educational about residency, poll observers, One-Stop sites and 16- and 17-year-olds registering to vote.
In her email, Meads acknowledges the serious residency issues surrounding student voter registration, but adds:
“LET ME BE CLEAR, STUDENTS HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE, but they must follow the same residency laws as any other NC voter…”
Meads also alerts the Senators to the 59 voter registration challenges that will be heard Thursday, April 18, by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.
Meads is no stranger to elections: She served on the Pasquotank County Board of Election during three separate appointments.
Here is an excerpt from her comments to the three senators:
While Senator Cook knows me, please let me introduce myself. I am Betsy Meads from Pasquotank County. I am a small-business owner who served over nine years on the Pasquotank County Board of Elections (originally appointed in 1997) and during three separate appointments. During my time off the board, our elections process remained my passion and that continues. During my tenure on the Board, I participated in the first One-Stop voting (2000), judged three elections protests, one candidate challenge, and two voter challenges. One challenge was referred to Superior Court.
In November 2012, I was part of a successful challenge to four voters in Pasquotank on Election Day. The hearing was held prior to canvass and three ballots were thrown out by a majority of a primarily Democratic Board. The other challenge was sustained but they limited the ballot to counting the races in the correct precinct that the challenged voter lived in.
On March 12, 2013, I was part of a two-person team who challenged 59 voters in Pasquotank. Of these, 58 were using Elizabeth City State University’s address for voting purposes but did not reside on campus. The 59th is a student who is registered on campus and lives in a dorm but we are challenging based on the four residency requirements that are statute-driven. The Pasquotank BOE allowed two days for the preliminary challenge on March 12. We completed all the challenges in 2.5 hours. We have researched and knew the proof that was required to move this to a full challenge. All of our challenges were upheld in the preliminary round by unanimous vote by a board consisting of two Democrats and one Republican. Of particular interest in these challenges are:
- So far the first class mail of almost 40 of the 58 using 1704 Weeksville Road Address has been returned undeliverable TWICE; we have no means of locating these voters.
- All of these voters are in ONE precinct.
- These are clear cut cases of VOTER FRAUD in ONE PRECINCT.
So much for my background … I hope I have piqued your interest enough to read further:
Imagine taking driving lessons in high school without the benefit of learning the DMV laws in regards to driving on our roads. In addition, imagine no speed limit signs, no stop signs, absolutely no warning that you are breaking our driving laws, yet if you did something wrong you could be held accountable. That is the situation that our college students are in today when it comes to registering and voting at their college addresses.
Living in a county with a university, the biggest complaint that we hear is, “Why do those students get to vote here?” This comes from both parties. In the 1970s there were two court cases relative to college students registering and voting on campus: Hall vs. Wake County Board of Elections (1972) and Lloyd vs. Babb (1979). It appears the lawsuits allowed students to register in their college town but case law indicates that it does not absolve any student registering in the college county from meeting the four prongs of residency.
According to NC Court rulings (and this info is from the NC State Board of Elections),
- To establish a change in domicile a registering voter must show the actual abandonment of the first domicile (in this case the student’s home)
- Coupled by the intent NOT to return to the former domicile
- And the acquisition of a new domicile by actual residence
- With the intent of making the newer residence a permanent home.
According to Don Wright, General Counsel for the NC State Board of Elections, in his Residency for Election Purposes paper (updated April 2010):
A student can be domiciled at the location of his or her college if it is the intent of that student not to return to his or her former home and regards the college locale as “home”. See Baker v. Varser, 240 NC 260, 82 SE2d 90 (1954). However, there is a legal presumption that a student who leaves for college is not domiciled in the college town to which he goes. This is a rebuttable presumption; that is, it can be overcome by the greater weight of the evidence.
Any student living in a dorm is in a temporary, not permanent residence. Residency is allowed on a semester basis only and students are required to vacate on holidays and vacations. In addition, to abandon the first domicile, students need to change the address on their driver’s licenses and car registrations, and show the college address on their individual tax returns– in other words, move all correspondence to the new address.
The law is in place. The application of the law by the State Board of Elections is the problem. They (SBE) have created a protective cocoon around the students and made it seem that anyone questioning the right of the students to vote is trying to suppress the student’s vote. LET ME BE CLEAR, STUDENTS HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE, but they must follow the same residency laws as any other NC voter and the NC State Board of Elections is circumventing this. The NCSBOE even put in a special rule for students registering at One-Stop. Students have no utility bills or any other required documentation to support their residency on campus. So the SBOE allowed documentation from the Universities showing the students live on campus. Traditionally the schools give local boards of elections rosters of students living on campus for One-Stop registration. In ECSU’s case there is no physical address on the roster that is recognized in our voter data system. Note: it was from ECSU’s list that we were able to determine the large number of cases of voter fraud.
THE SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM IS AVAILABLE WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL LAWS.
Regarding Senate Bill 666 and the NC Income Tax stipulation: I would like to remark at this time that your solution has no way of being policed. As a conservative, I am totally against the NC Dept of Revenue having any other access in to our lives other than those relating to income, and most would agree with me. I also think that this will easily be overturned in court if put into law and direct unneeded attention from the Justice Dept. into NC Election law.
What we need is the proper application of NC law and the proper education of our students and University staff on the rights of students registering. Keep in mind that our local BOE staffs are taught not to question students when they register. Local Boards of Elections should have education material handy to inform students of their rights and responsibilities when registering, including advising them on completing absentee ballot applications.
If you are interested, our challenge hearing will be begin Thursday, April 18 @ 9:00 a.m. in Elizabeth City. We invite anyone from the legislature to attend to see what voter fraud looks like. If you are unable to attend we will be videoing and will happily email you the YouTube link of the proceedings.
I hope I haven’t bored you and have your attention to just a few more items:
- OBSERVERS. Good Judges are hard to find, train and keep. They are in charge on Election Day. They take an oath to hold that office. Observers DO NOT need to roam the precinct. It can prove intimidating to voters, and again invite Justice Dept interference into our elections. Keep in mind, observers from both parties will be roaming the voting enclosure under your rules. THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA! Observers are not privileged on Election Day. By law, complaints can be filed against precinct workers and public hearings are required to address any issue. Your bill modifications would make it next to impossible to retain judges and withholding their pay is against the law for any entity.
- SATELLITE ONE-STOP LOCATIONS. This should be decided by the county boards of elections working with the county who pays the bills. In larger counties, satellite One-Stop locations are critical. Voters across party lines like One-Stop and creating problems for One-Stop will create problems for you. Note: Voter fraud is more easily identifiable through One-Stop voting. Also, I would recommend no Sunday voting, and shortened One-Stop periods for all elections except Presidential elections due to voter turnout.
- See below:
NCGS 163.82.25 reads: Mandated voter registration drive.
The Governor shall proclaim as Citizens Awareness Month the month designated by the State Board of Elections annually. During that month, the State Board of Elections shall initiate a statewide voter registration drive and shall adopt rules under which county boards of elections shall conduct the drives. Each county board of elections shall participate in the statewide voter registration drives and conduct voter registration and preregistration drives at public high schools in accordance with local board of education policies, school system administrative procedures, and guidelines of the State Board of Elections. (1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1044, s. 19(e); 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 2; 2009‑541, s. 16(a).)
This should be abolished and instead require mandated VOTER EDUCATION Drives.
Finally, Perdue’s mandate that 16-year-olds be allowed to register and remain in inactive status until they turn 18 should be abolished. That inflates our voter rolls and these students may move on prior to reaching voting age.
I appreciate your time if you have made it this far, but in closing I would like to add that perception is very important in voting. This bill has a vindictive tone against parents of college students and precinct workers. Everything that is addressed in this bill can be solved by education, applying existing law, and a little tweaking. We gained significant ground in NC during the 2012 election. Your bill addresses many of the people who will be voting in 2014. It is very important that we tune in our voting population rather than tune them out.
Betsy S. Meads