WATAUGA — The Watauga County Board of Elections has one new member leading up to the Nov. 2 local elections.
James Hill, a Republican, was appointed as the newest member of the Watauga County Board of Elections on June 29. He will join fellow Republican Eric Eller and the two Democrats — Matthew Walpol and Marvin Williamsen.
Hill said he worked with the board of elections during the 2020 primary and learned how passionate the people at the board of elections are about the election process and ensuring everyone had the ability to vote.
He also said he was honored to be nominated and to serve as a board member.
“I got a lot to learn,” Hill said. “We have a wonderful board. All the members there are fantastic and are very passionate about doing the very best they can for all voters. I hope I can follow in their example.”
According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the state chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties recommended three registered voters in each county for appointment.
The makeup of the board features two Republicans and two Democrats and a fifth member, who serves as the chair, appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper. Board members serve two-year terms, which will expire in July 2023.
“I look forward to working with the board,” Watauga County Director of Elections Matt Snyder said. “They did an excellent job last year during a very difficult time and I look forward to working with them again.”
The current board of elections — which includes Republican Nancy Owen — met for its last meeting on July 13. The board is currently chaired by Democrat Michael Behrent, who was reappointed by Cooper on July 14.
Behrent was originally appointed as Chair of the board of elections Oct. 8, 2020, to replace Jane Ann Hodges who stepped down due to health concerns. His appointment is a two year term.
For the Nov. 2 election, Snyder said the county would follow any guidance from the state board related to health procedures.
“As we pass through the summer (the state board) will continue to monitor the situation and issue guidance,” Snyder said. “As always, our goal is to make voting as safe and easily accessible and easy for all our voters in the county, and they’re our number one concern.”
One of the biggest issues the county board of elections faces each year is getting people registered to vote. Snyder said that since a lot of community members — especially after the school year — move, the board of elections encourages people to check their registration status.
“We encourage every eligible voter to come out and vote this year,” Snyder said. “If folks have any questions, they’re encouraged to call us here at the board of elections.”
The Watauga Board of Elections can be reached by phone at (828) 265-8061.