Who knew that sitting in on a State Board of Elections meeting in Raleigh would turn out to be a great way to start September in North Carolina!
I only made it into the over-flow room for the hearing, as the main room was packed. I got in the door courtesy of my Mayor, Mark Chilton, who was also there to witness the hearing on whether or not Montravias King would be allowed to run for pubic office in Elizabeth City.
The setting reminded me of one of those great 1930’s courtroom dramas set in the South. Despite air conditioning, the room was hot. Men in suits were sweating while women in dresses (and pants and shorts) glistened. Little relief was offered by the many fans brought in by staff to move the air around. As a group, it seemed to represent every demographic NC has to offer, young, old, men, women, business owners and unemployed, long-time activists with the newly awakened.
All were glued to the projected image of what was happening in the adjacent room and struggling to understand the audio, which was sometimes too soft for any ears to comprehend.
Testimony went on for over 80 minutes. An attorney for Montravias King presented multiple examples of paperwork showing his living abode, offering that his personal momentoes now lived with him in Elizabeth City and no longer resided with his family in Snow Hill. Questions were asked regarding what address pay checks had been mailed to, where were his yearly tax forms mailed, did he have a library card or fishing license?
Two members of the Pasquotank Board of Elections were also there. State BOE members questioned them on how their decision could be reconciled with law and statutes. When it was mentioned that the residency administrator and a vice chancellor of the college had testified that dorms were temporary residences, a State BOE members asked if those two gentlemen were certified in NC election law. Stifled laughs were heard around the room. I’ve got to say that while some of the answers did not really make sense, neither did some of the questions. I began to feel there might be bias on the part of some of those asking questions.
Finally, each State BOE member made a few comments and called for a motion to rescind the decision made by the Pasquotank BOE. It was unanimous! The ayes had it!
Montravias King can now run for public office as a college student living in a college dorm. The crowd erupted in cheers, applause and happiness. Strangers turned to congratulate each other and the media descended for interviews. Someone exclaimed, “Justice is alive in North Carolina!”
Now, about Watauga ...