02/24/05 — Hulse to leave elections board

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Hulse to leave elections board

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 24, 2005 1:52 PM

Geoff Hulse said today that he will not remain on the Wayne County Board of Elections after his current time expires in June.

Hulse, 49, is a local lawyer and has served as chairman of the elections board for almost six years.

"I've been through two presidential elections, recounts and hearings," he said. "But the last election went well, things have calmed down, and I will be leaving the place in good hands."

Hulse, a Democrat, said that although he knew there were some problems with the elections office when he agreed to take the position, he said he really had no idea of the depth of the issues.

"It was a battlefield," he said. "And the first year or two it was tough getting the parties and the board together."

Hulse said that Wayne County's gradual shift to a true two-party county led to division "and bad blood."

"The Democrats didn't want to give anything up, and the Republicans wanted to get everything they thought they deserved," he said.

Besides partisan problems, Hulse said, there were other issues involving staff and equipment that popped up.

In 2000, he recommended the formation of a 10-member bipartisan task force to investigate complaints about the election process.

Although the board has faced tough issues and taken some missteps, Hulse said, he said he is sure that the person with the most votes in Wayne County always won.

Several years ago, Hulse received an Award of Merit from the state Board of Elections for his efforts in "bringing together partisan interest in a divided community in a fair and impartial manner."

Hulse said that most of the previous chairmen had served four-year terms.

"I stayed an extra two years to help them over the hump of some changes," he said. "Now I'm satisfied that they're in much better shape."

He said he was honored that the Democratic Party and Wayne County citizens allowed him to serve as chairman.

North Carolina law requires each county have an three-person election board, with members chosen by the local Republican and Democratic parties. Whichever party occupies the governor's office is permitted two members to give it the majority.

Chester Beverly, a Democrat, and Joe Daughtery, a Republican, are the other two members of the current elections board.