Hodges and the heat map

Watauga County elections board member Jane Ann Hodges shows a heat map of population density in Watauga County during a meeting on July 18, 2018.

BOONE — A lawsuit against Watauga County Board of Elections member Jane Ann Hodges by former election poll worker Melanie Byrd Hollar was dismissed on Nov. 14, according to court documents at the Watauga County Courthouse.

“After hearing arguments of counsel, (Hodges’) motion is granted and (Hollar’s) complaint is dismissed,” the ruling by Watauga Superior Court Judge Lori Hamilton stated.

Hamilton granted Hodges’ motion to dismiss, originally filed on Oct. 1, which claimed there was “undisputed evidence” that no slanderous comments were made and that Hodges was entitled to sovereign immunity.

The complaint was initially filed by Hollar in September 2018, claiming that Hodges spoke during an April 2018 board meeting against her re-appointment as a poll worker.

“(Hodges) stated to other board members and staff that she did not feel comfortable with (Hollar) working the election because that judge and her (now-deceased) mother used to plant drugs on people and that (Hodges) was worried if (Hollar) was allowed to work at the polls that (Hollar) would plant drugs in people’s cars while they were voting,” the lawsuit claimed.

However, Hodges claimed in a defense filed in November 2018 that Hollar was not hired because of “numerous corroborated complaints against her by other election workers and board members.”

The court documents contained depositions of Watauga elections office Director Matthew Snyder, employee Donna Houck, board member Nancy Owen and now-former board member Richard Rapfogel, taken on Nov. 2. On Oct. 21, Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque filed an affidavit in support of Hodges’ motion to dismiss.

“We were happy and Ms. Hodges was happy,” said Mike Perrin, Hodges’ attorney for the case, of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Charlotte office,. “Ms. Hodges denied saying anything slanderous. Every witness deposed confirmed that nothing slanderous was said.”

A message was left for Nathan Miller of Boone, Hollar’s attorney, on Friday.

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