06/15/05 — Hulse says farewell to election chief job

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Hulse says farewell to election chief job

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on June 15, 2005 1:45 PM

From broken voting machines to lost ballots, Geoff Hulse has been through it all during his six-year term on the Wayne County Board of Elections.

But on Tuesday he bid all that a final farewell at his last meeting as a member of the board.

"I know I'm a warped individual but I've enjoyed it," Hulse said.

Besides being presented with a commemorative plaque from the county and the election board staff, Hulse also became a member of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Presented by the governor's office, membership in this order is given to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state.

Hulse, 49, is a local lawyer and has served as chairman of the election board during his tenure on the board.

He said during his time he has been through two presidential elections, recounts and hearings.

"We've done a lot together, and it's been fun," he said. "But now it's time for somebody else to have the fun."

Hulse, who announced in February that he would be leaving the board, said the first two years were tough, especially getting both political parties together.

The county's gradual shift to a true two-party county led to some division, he said.

Partisan problems weren't the only issues plaguing the board, as complaints led him to help form a 10-member bipartisan task force to investigate complaints about the election process.

Ed Wharton, chairman of the Wayne County Republican Party, thanked Hulse for his hard work.

"We've had our ups and downs on recounts," Wharton said. "But you've been open-minded and fair. And I know you caught some flak."

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

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

The Democrats will submit names to the state election board for the next chairman, expected to be announced later this month.

Beverly said it had been a real pleasure serving with Hulse.

"You have done so much to get our buns out of the fire," Beverly said.

Daughtery said he hated to see Hulse leave.

"Four years ago when I came on, you all wondered how it was going to sift out. Here comes Joe Daughtery," he said. "But I was warmly received and have received respect."

Gary Bartlett, the director of the state board of elections, was present Tuesday as Hulse stepped down from the board.

Bartlett and Hulse have been friends since college.

"He roped me into this job," Hulse joked, but Bartlett said it didn't require much roping.

"I just threw out the line, and he bit," Bartlett said.