Aiken to change voter registration

Board to hear challenge today

Staff WritersDecember 9, 2009 

  • What: Wake County Board of Elections hearing

    When: 11 a.m. today

    Where: Ground floor conference room, 337 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh

— Pop singer Clay Aiken on Wednesday withdrew his Wake County voter registration, ending an official challenge to his qualification to vote in Wake County.

Aiken owns a home in Chatham County, but kept his voter registration in Wake County, using his mother's address. On Wednesday, the Wake County Board of Elections in a preliminary hearing decided that probable cause existed that Aiken was not qualified to vote in Wake County, but decided against sending the matter to a full hearing.

In a blog post earlier this week, Aiken said he still considers Raleigh to be his home but wrote that he'll change his voter registration "rather than get into a technical dispute."

"I may not be able to effect change through my vote, but I will join other concerned citizens in speaking truth to those who would reverse decades of progress in Wake County schools," Aiken said on his blog. "I stand by my opposition to policies that threaten to resegregate schools and eliminate diversity. These policies will not prepare children for the larger world."

Aiken had spoken out last month on his blog, calling the new school board members "selfish idiots."

After the blog post, Claude Pope, chairman of the Wake County Republican Party, challenged the "American Idol" star's vote in this fall's hotly contested school board election.

Pope says his challenge to Aiken's vote on Oct. 6 was based on a News & Observer story about the blog post, in which a conservative activist was quoted saying that Aiken did not live in Wake County.

"There was something said in your article about, 'He lives here and voted there and somebody should look into that,'" Pope said.

Pope claimed that his challenge was not based on the negative remarks that were made about the new board members who had been endorsed by the GOP.

Aiken responded to Pope's challenge.

"It just goes to show the lengths to which some folks will go to silence an opposing view," Aiken said on his blog. "I've remained registered at the permanent address that I've long used here in Wake County because I consider Raleigh home."

County Elections Director Cherie Poucher said that the elections board has heard challenges to the rights of candidates to represent certain districts based on residency, but typically not to an individual voter's place of residence.

The question of residency for a voter can be a complicated one, and the burden of proof lies with the challenger, Poucher said. "It's based on, 'Where do you put your head at night? Where do you sleep? Where is your car registered?'" she said.

"Owning property somewhere else is not a disqualifier. What if you have a house at the beach?"

Election officials said Aiken has given no indication that he'll show up at today's preliminary hearing.

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

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