1977 - 1985, The Beginning
The original name of the Elections Officials Association was THE NORTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION OF CHAIRMEN OF COUNTY BOARDS OF ELECTIONS. The membership of that organization consisted of the chairmen of each County Board of Elections. The oldest copy of their constitution and by-laws is undated; however, the first recorded President served from 1977 to 1979. The initial membership of the Executive Committee is as follows:
Mr Ralph L Gilbert, Jr - Cleveland County
Mr Clifton W Everett, Jr - Pitt County
Mr William D Britt - Buncombe County
Mr H B Goodson - Forsyth County
Mr Edward C Sneed - New Hanover County
Mr C C Huskins - Caldwell County
Mrs Essie E Stalls - Martin County
The primary function of the Elections Officials organization was to attempt to influence legislation and to make the election process more efficient. The five stated purpose of the Association were:
A. To endeavor to bring about the general improvement and betterment of elections in North Carolina.
B. To promote greater activity and high efficiency on the part of Election Boards and its staff
C. To secure united cooperation in handling Election Board problems
D. To provide the legislature and other citizens with information necessary for the passage of sound election legislation.
E. To inform the public of the election process and encourage strong participation by all eligible persons.
The Presidents of the Association served for a period of two years and were as follows:
1977-1979 H Clay Hemric, Alamance County
1979-1981 George Goodwin, Edgecombe County
1981-1983 James Armentrout, Forsyth County
1983-1985 Elizabeth R Hoyle, Johnston County
Into the 1990's
The organization continued in its initial form until March of 1985. On March 12, 1985 the Association amended the By-Laws in pertinent part as follows:
A. The name was changed to THE NORTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY BOARDS OF ELECTIONS OFFICIALS;
B. The membership provisions were amended to provide that membership in the Association would be the Chairmen of the County Board of Elections and a member of the County Board who is of the opposite party from that of the Chairman.
At the annual seminar held September 24, 1985, the by-laws were amended again to provide that membership would be the chairmen and all members of County Boards of Elections in the State of North Carolina. This change meant that each member of a County Board of Elections would be a member of what amounted to essentially a new association of all County Board of Elections members.
The purposes of the Association remained identical to the initial by-laws and amended by-laws. Henry P Van Hoy, II of Davie County was elected the first President of this new Association.
With the changes in the organization it became apparent that the focus of the organization would, and should change. While influencing legislation would remain an important goal of the organization, and the legislative committee remained extremely important, it was felt that an increasing emphasis should be placed on continuing education relative to election laws and election procedure. Therefore, committees were formed covering large counties, small counties, voting equipment and continuing education. The Association began holding seminars on continuing election education which supplemented the seminars conducted by the State Board of Elections.
An effort was made to develop various training tools such as videos, Board Member Handbook and other efforts to assist County Board of Elections Officials. Continuing education for election officials as a significant function of the Association had it roots during this period.
John Paisley of Alamance County was elected President from 1987 to 1989. During his term twelve Association members from all over the State attended a Legislative Committee meeting in his office to set goals regarding election law changes. Other committees were appointed and work begun on furthering members' education.
Pattie Proctor of Johnston County was elected President from 1989 to 1991. The Association established its corporate tax-exempt status, By-Laws were amended to that effect and the name was changed to ELECTION BOARDS ASSOCIATION OF NORTH CAROLINA, INC.
Under Pattie's leadership an outstanding Continuing Education Committee, chaired by Paula Grunert of Clay County, increased the training for Board members. In addition to the training session held in conjunction with the State Board Seminar, a very successful Saturday workshop hosted by the Institute of Government was held. The state was divided into the same districts as the Supervisors districts to assist in the information and education process. Also a copy of the video "First Tuesday" was sent to each county that had at least one paid member for their use in educating the general public regarding elections. Considerable time and effort by various members of the Association have been devoted to producing a video, but this is a very complex project.
The Legislative Committee, chaired by Ruth Wilson of Cleveland County, became very active and members from across the State attended Election Law Committee meetings of the Legislature on a regular basis.
Hugh West of Iredell County was elected President from 1991 to 1993. Both the Continuing Education and Legislative Committees continued under the same leadership and grew in membership and involvment. Another very successful Saturday workshop led by Bob Joyce of the Institute of Government was held in addition to the training sessions held in conjunction with the State Board Seminars. A state-wide Voter's Guide was developed, printed and distributed to all Boards that had at least one paid-up member of the Association. The initial order was 47,850 with a subsequent order of 15,000. The State Board of Elections approved this project and it is hoped they will adopt it into their budget in future years.
The following members of the Association were appointed to an Advisory Committee to the State Board of Elections in 1992:
L Hugh West, Jr - Iredell County
Henry P Van Hoy, II - Davie County
Sally Godehn - Henderson County
W H Ray, Jr - Lee County
Khan Perkins - Scotland County
Ruth B Wilson - Cleveland County
Franklin Stanley - Columbus County
They served, along with eight Supervisors, thru 1993 delving into all areas of election laws which also included the Administrative Code.
Ruth Wilson of Cleveland County was elected President from 1993 to 1995. The Continuing Education Committee, chaired by Conrad Pogorzelski of Gaston County, continues the dedication of the previous committee. Training sessions led by Bob Joyce of the Institute of Goverment have continued to be coordinated by this committee. Another Saturday Seminar is planned for September. A Board Member Handbook is being distributed at the August State Board Seminar.
The Legislative Committee, chaired by Clyde Benner of Greene County, has been very active this year. They attended several sessions of the Legislative Review Committee on Election Laws and were encouraged to give their input into proposed changes. This Committee also works closely with the Chairman of the Supervisor's Legislative Committee.
District 7, under the leadership of Walter Leake of Craven County, began very successful regular quarterly meetings. District 6 had Representative Mickey Michaux speak at their meeting. Further steps are being taken to encourage all Districts to organize district meetings.
Membership in the Association has grown to at least one member from 92 counties. As the Association continues to grow in numbers, experience and dedication to the Goals of the ByLaws, the Election Boards Association of North Carolina will have an even more positive impact on the election process of North Carolina.
The seven member Nominating Committee prepared and mailed a survey to all counties requesting applicants for the various offices that would be open in August. Six applications were received. Members unanimously elected Jim Dobson of Iredell County as the new President and all other recommendations of the Nominating Committee (Clyde Benner moved out of Greene County in June so is no longer a member).
Jim thanked Ruth for her leadership following his election and appointed Committee Chairmen and members. New lists will be prepared for the Handbooks and distributed at the March seminar. Also new Handbooks will be given to all new paid-up Board members since most retiring members have wished to keep their Handbook.
Another successful training seminar was held in September and membership in the Association continues to grow. Several members were chosen to be a part of a Focus Group for the State Board in developing a training video to be used in the training of precinct officials.
The training video was completed and a copy sent to all counties to be used in training precinct officials. This was widely acclaimed as a very useful tool and plans were undertaken to produce another vido for training Board Members.
Among the first two graduating classes to receive their State Certification were ten Board members. All State Board seminars, training sessions, and District meetings qualify for certification credit. In 1996 the annual Fall Board training sessions were discontinued.
At the August State Board Seminar in 1997 the Nominating Committee, chaired by Joan Cardwell of Forsyth County, presented the slate of officers which were voted upon favorably, electing Ron Gregory as President for the next two years. The Board Member video was produced and a copy sent to each Board Member. New Board Member Handbooks are being prepared and will be distributed at the March seminar.
In 1999 the Association elected Walter Leake of Craven County as President for the years 1999-2001. Several districts continued the practice of district meetings, usually having Gary Bartlett or someone else from the state as speaker - also Jonnie McClean attended an Executive Board meeting as our guest. 93 counties are now members of the Association. It was decided to host a reception for all Board members, Directors and staff in attendance on Wednesday evening of the upcoming seminar. It was also voted to include the "Precinct Training Note Book" prepared by the State Board in our member's Handbook to be distributed at the 2000 seminar.
A New Millennium
In 2001 the Association elected Jackie Blackburn of Ashe County as President for the next two years. At the March 2002 meeting the Association voted to allocate $500 to each district to assist in holding district meetings, upon submission of expected expenses to the treasurer and approval of the President. This amount is for a one-year period. Several districts had held district meetings. Since the summer 2002 State Board Seminar was cancelled no Hand Books were printed or distributed for this period.
At the March 2003 Executive Board meeting it was voted to hold a buffet dinner on the Wednesday night of the July State Board Seminar for all Board members, Dirctors, State Board members and staff at the Association's expense. This was most appreciated by all who attended.
At the Association meeting on July 31st Thomas Eatmon of Wilson was elected President for the next two years. At this time 94 counties are members of the Association. Many Board members have received their State Board Certification. Following the Executive Board meeting in March 2004, a joint meeting was held with the Director's Executive Board and suggestions made to continue this practice. Returning to the practice of September Saturday training sessions was also endorsed. The $500 allocated to Districts was given the following guidelines: a sum not to exceed $500 per year, contingent upon a plan for their meeting, to be submitted to the President of the Association for his approval; and any unused funds to be returned to the Assocation. (Further submissions can be made during the year if the entire $500 has not been used). New Hand Books, in folders, will be ready for distribution at the summer seminar and upon a vote by the Association a Hand Book will also be provided to each county Director.