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A mid-December ruling by the State Board of Elections that allowed a do-over for some Buncombe County college students during early voting could wreak havoc in college towns all across the state.
The issue involved 175 Warren Wilson College students voting from their campus mailing facility (701 Warren Wilson Road in Asheville) instead of from their actual domiciles.
This type of registration happens at quite a few schools, like Duke, North Carolina Central, Wake Forest and School of the Arts, to name a few. It forces election employees either to hunt down the students’ physical addresses or to look the other way, letting students vote from their mailroom address; which appeared to be the Buncombe County Board of Elections practice for a “long time,” until it was busted. ...
An unpopular but prudent solution would either have been to let the students vote by absentee ballot from their home of record or for the Buncombe County Board of Elections to count their ballots as “partials,” only applying their votes for the bigger races but not the problematic district ones. Some would scoff at that, but let’s never forget how many college students don’t even qualify for in-state tuition. They can vote in local races without consequence and rarely pay local property taxes.
Election officials blew the call. Hopefully, the courts will appreciate this peril along with a few related issues involving the entire student-voting franchise: First, do college students living at temporary addresses really have standing in local races? Second, are those young adults being politically manipulated by their college professors who can shape values with a bully pulpit and a grade book?