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New Hanover County Democratic Party Claims Board of Elections is Disenfranchising Student Voters

Pauljoffe at en.wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A voting machine

In New Hanover County, dormitory students who cannot state their street address will not be allowed to cast a regular ballot in the coming election.  The New Hanover County Democratic Party is challenging this procedure, saying it disenfranchises student voters.

The State Board of Elections dictates that voters must be able to identify their “address of residence” before voting.  Richard Poole, Chair of the New Hanover County Democratic Party, says that since the statute does not specifically say “street address,” a dormitory’s name should be sufficient.  However, the New Hanover County Board of Elections requires the student to state his or her full street address, which some students do not know.  Poole says those who cannot provide their full address will have to cast a provisional ballot. 

"In other counties, they send dormitory lists to the polling place, and the poll workers have them, and if the student can identify the dormitory they live in, they assist them with the street address. And there’s really been no good reason stated by this Board of Elections why they’re out of sync with the State Board of Elections and other counties."

The Director of the New Hanover County Board of Elections says local policy aligns with the state, as the statute requires an address.  The New Hanover County Board of Elections has had no reports of voters being turned away for any reason, including inability to state their street address.   

The Board of Elections will meet at 5 o’clock on Tuesday, October 28th at the New Hanover County Government Center to approve absentee applications.  The issue of street address identification is currently not on the meeting agenda.