Board of Elections: GOP concerns over legality of early voting site were baseless ***UPDATED***

No action was taken at a Thursday evening, Sept. 16, emergency meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Elections after it clarified that the door of Rep. Heath Shuler’s congressional office was 25 feet away from the door of a planned early-voting location at 199 College St. in downtown Asheville. The board called the meeting in response to complaints by the Buncombe County GOP that the proximity of the two offices could possibly violate state law that requires a buffer zone between voting sites and election-related activity.

While acknowledging that Heath Shuler’s Congressional office is different than his campaign office, Buncombe County GOP Chair Chad Nesbitt and others caught the attention of board members by claiming that a sign with Shuler’s name on the front door of the building could potentially be interpreted as a “political advertisement.” At a meeting the board held the previous night, Nesbitt stated that Shuler’s door sign was 18 feet from the voting site, causing county staff to spend much of today looking at potential relocation options.

State law stipulates that political advertisements and campaign activity must by 25 feet or more away from voting locations.

While admitting to no wrong doing, Shuler’s office sent an e-mail to the board Sept. 16 expressing its willingness to cover the congressman’s name on the sign if it would help ease any concerns.

During the meeting, however, board members said their concerns were quelled when its Director of Campaign Finance Rachel Rathbone revealed that she measured the area between the doors earlier that day: They were 25 feet apart.

Asked at the meeting where the shorter, alleged measurement came from, Nesbitt said “we were told it was within 18 feet.”

“But you didn’t do your own due diligence?” an attendee asked.

“No, that’s just what we were told,” Nesbitt admitted.


Jones P. Byrd (D), Chairman of the Buncome County Board of Elections


Chad Nesbitt, Chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party


Don Yelton, Second Vice Chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party


Bob VanWagner (R), Member of the Buncome County Board of Elections


Jake Frankel, Part-time Rastafarian and Staff Reporter of the Mountain Xpress

Photos (and captions) by Michael Muller

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning writer and reporter who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

18 thoughts on “Board of Elections: GOP concerns over legality of early voting site were baseless ***UPDATED***

  1. Erika Franzi

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how many county tax-payer dollars were wasted in the day long efforts of many BOE employees in the hurried attempt to address this false charge lodged by the Buncombe County GOP?

    It is irresponsible of the BCGOP to make unfounded allegations which result in wasted time, squandered money, and emergency meetings attended by the press and high level county officials.

    One wonders if there will be a forthcoming apology from the BCGOP chair, Chad Nesbitt.

  2. How about that. The Director of Campaign Finance, Rachel Rathbone had the common sense to fact check a statement made by the BCGOP Chairman Nesbitt and found out he didn’t know what he was talking about.

  3. “Trust, but verify.” ~Ronald Reagan

    How hard could it have been to get a tape measure out of the toolbox and verify the actual versus rumored distance? One minute of effort by an officer in the leadership of the BCGOP, or anyone else in Asheville, could have prevented all this. http://www.buncombegop.org/about/officers/

    I have learned the hard way over the years to double and triple check what political “allies” swear is the truth…hopefully Chad, and the rest of the leadership of the BCGOP, will treat this as a learning experience and run information like this through their research committee (I looked at their website, they have one) in the future before using that info to attack an opponent or score points.

  4. Geoff Fobes

    The Buncombe GOP has a research committee but not a spellcheck committee?

  5. “At a Sept. 22 meeting of the board the previous night, Nesbitt stated that Shuler’s door sign was 18 ft. from the voting site,”

    Huh????? Sept 22nd meeting??????

  6. Jake Quinn

    Right station, wrong reporter: the “attendee” was not Frank, it was Russ Bowen.

    And ‘Thank You!’ to Mountain Xpress for actually sending a reporter to cover the meeting. Perhaps if the Citizen-Crimes had sent someone there, they wouldn’t have misreported the facts on the front page of their second section today.

  7. Margaret Williams

    Sorry: The prior meeting was on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

  8. Dionysis

    ““But you didn’t do your own due diligence?” an attendee asked.

    “No, that’s just what we were told,” Nesbitt admitted.”

    And that about sums it up. Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts!

  9. The difference between 18 ft. and 25 ft. is what you get when [insert any stumpy gray-haired mountain Republican] paces off the distance with his club foot.
    …………………………..

  10. Waste of time…while important issues go begging.
    It’s about jobs. Nothing else really matters at this point.

  11. bobaloo

    Excellent job by Muller capturing the completely befuddled expressions of Yelton and Nesbitt.

  12. Bert

    You wouldn’t believe the evil Liberal plots to get Heath Shuler reelected. Liberals love him so much and will go to any illegal lengths to keep him in office. Just as Ken Hanke. There is a Left Wing Commie Muslim Socialist underground plot behind Heath Shuler. It is as the Republicans say.

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