by Micah Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief
When Warren Wilson students went to the polls for early voting this week, most were given provisional ballots because of the recent redistricting that effectively split the campus in half. Those who live on one side of Warren Wilson Road vote in one precinct, while those who live on the other vote in another precinct.
According to Drew Reisinger, Buncombe county’s Register of Deeds who has been active in getting out the vote both on and off campus, this redistricting was strictly political.
“It’s a voter suppression tactic used solely to create confusion on campus,” Reisinger said.
The Republicans who currently control the newly reconfigured 10th district that includes Swannanoa and Asheville hope that this confusion on campus will result in a smaller voter turnout among Wilson students, Reisinger said.
“If you can create the confusion on campus that your vote doesn’t matter, you can keep students at home who are likely going to vote for democrats,” he said.
Splitting the campus in half confused even the Board of Elections. Every student on campus is registered under the same address, 701 Warren Wilson Road, and because the Board of Elections does not have a list of who lives where on campus, provisional ballots, rather than regular ballots, were given to students.
According to Dean of Service Cathy Kramer, the polling places (WD Williams Elementary School and the Bee Tree Fire Department) now have a list of who lives where on campus, so that students can vote with regular ballots on election day.
“This all came to light just a couple days ago,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “The Board of Elections is confident that students will get assigned to correct district by Election Day. Meanwhile, students are getting provisional ballots – and we’ve urged County Board of Elections to get poll workers to give better explanation to the students about why these are being used. Those who voted the wrong ballot style as a provisional will be contacted and asked to vote correct style, all approved by State Board of Elections. Not ideal – blame redistricting, not the students or the college for having students register at 701 Warren Wilson Road.”
It is unclear whether the confusion surrounding voting and voting locations really will keep students from the polls.
“Ya’ll have a much harder time voting than anyone else has,” Reisinger said. “We work our hearts out to get students to care and have good enough candidates that students can get excited about them. [Students] don’t have cars and we’ve removed the only voting location on campus. And on top of that, when students finally do get to the polls, they’re given provisional ballots. I can only imagine how discouraged that is for students. That is voter suppression.”