For 30 days, the organization Let Asheville Vote has pounded the pavement and recruited businesses in an attempt to force a public referendum on the issue of partisan elections. Now the group is approaching their proverbial moment of truth.
At press time—about 3 p.m. on Monday, July 16—Let Asheville Vote organizer Charlie Hume told Xpress he was on his way into Asheville City Hall to submit a petition with 5,650 signatures to the City Clerk’s office.
By now the petition is in the hands of the Buncombe County Board of Elections, which has 10 days to compare it to the board’s database and confirm that the signatures are those of registered city voters. Then the board will hand the results back to the City Clerk’s office, and if the final tally hits the 5,000 mark or above, Asheville will get a referendum on the question of partisan or nonpartisan voting. The petition is a response to City Council’s controversial move in June to switch municipal elections from nonpartisan to partisan affairs.
As the clock ticked toward the submission deadline at the end of the business day, petitions kept creeping in and were added to the stack. Hume said he hoped to continue submitting signatures to City Hall until the doors closed at 5 p.m.
“We have people who are walking in who have collected 10 or 15 of their own,” Hume said, adding that about 100 volunteers stepped up their signature-collection efforts in the last few days of the drive. As many as another 100 have taken it upon themselves to download and circulate the petition, and 20 or so businesses kept the petitions on their counters.
“You know, its real encouraging to see this in the city,” Hume said.