BOONE — As the new fiscal year starts on July 1, the Watauga Board of Elections discussed its budget and lack of funding for items such as new equipment on June 11.
While the board of elections didn’t receive the full amount it requested from Watauga County, it is seeing a 34.88 percent increase in its 2019-20 budget over its 2018-19 year. The board is receiving $476,416 of its $644,807 request from the county.
Director Matt Snyder said while there isn’t a law requiring counties to purchase new equipment, the county machines are becoming old and reaching their end of life. He added that the office will attempt to test new equipment next year, but was unsure if companies would allow them to do so without the funds to purchase it.
Snyder added that the had heard that there may be a $600 million federal allocation for new equipment, but that the funding would be awarded to counties such as Mecklenburg — who do not use paper ballots.
The board also requested funding for two new positions, but this request was also not met. The county’s appropriation also cut two staff positions at five voting locations for one-stop early voting — leaving four workers at those locations and six at the Watauga Administration Building and Appalachian State University poling sites, Snyder said.
Regardless that the office didn’t receive the full request, Snyder said it’s still a good amount for the office to work with.
“There are so many variables from the state legislature that could come down that we have to budget for that may or may not happen,” Snyder said. “With what was approved, unless all contingencies happen, we’ll be able to move funds around and do what we need to do.”
The two-week filing period for those seeking to enter the November municipal election opens at noon on July 5 and will end at noon on July 19. During this time, those who want to file for an open municipal seat can fill out paperwork at the Board of Elections office inside the Watauga County Courthouse.
Each municipality will have two to three seats up for election. Boone Town Council will have three seats for election — currently filled by Marshall Ashcraft, Lynne Mason and Loretta Clawson. The Boone Mayor position is not up for election this year, as it is a four-year term.
The town of Blowing Rock has two council seats for election that are currently filled by Albert Yount and Jim Steele, as well as the mayoral seat — which is currently served by Charlie Sellers. The Blowing Rock mayoral spot is up for election every two years.
The Beech Mountain Town Council will have three open seats — presently filled by Renee Castiglione, Carl Marquardt and Wendel Sauer. The Seven Devils Town Council also has three seats for election — that of Larry Fontaine, Kay Ehlinger and David Ehmig.
Castiglione and Fontaine currently serve as the mayors of their respective municipality. Board of Elections Administrative Assistant Donna Houck said unlike Boone and Blowing Rock, the councils of Beech Mountain and Seven Devils choose a mayor from within following each election.
Snyder said in order to file for these seats, candidates must live within the town limits of which they are applying.
For more information, call the Board of Elections office at (828) 265-8061 or contact Snyder at email@example.com.