BEAUFORT — Democrat Gerald Godette took his seat Wednesday morning on the County Board of Elections, filling a roughly three-month vacancy and ensuring the panel has a full roster ahead of the 2020 primaries in March.
Mr. Godette, a Morehead City resident and Beaufort native, was sworn in by Clerk of Court Ken Raper ahead of the BOE’s first meeting of the new year in its office off Live Oak Street in Beaufort.
“This year … there was an opening and I want to do anything I can to have a seat at the table where decisions are made and make sure things are done properly,” Mr. Godette told the News-Times of his interest in serving on the panel.
He joins the board following the resignation of Democrat Rick Heal, who stepped down Oct. 2, and will serve with Democrats Amy Holland and Susie Cuthrell, who is the chairperson, and Republicans Jeanette Deese and Dale Gillikin.
Mr. Godette was a county commission candidate for District 3 in 2018 and said he served as Morehead City 2 precinct chairman for the County Democratic Party prior to taking a seat on the county board Wednesday.
“I bring a Democratic perspective to the board,” he noted.
A graduate of N.C. A&T State University, Mr. Godette said he keeps busy outside of politics, as he is employed full time at Alderon Biosciences Inc. in Beaufort as a senior research assistant and serves two churches in Aurora. He previously served on the Morehead City Planning Board, the board of Carteret Community Theatre and the Morehead City Rotary Club.
County elections staff and the holdover board put him straight to work Wednesday morning, discussing strategies to staff polling places for the Tuesday, March 3 primary election.
Members discussed challenges with staffing, as they expect more voters in the 2020 as it is a presidential election year, but additional workers previously needed to implement voter identification checks will no longer be needed. A federal judge blocked that requirement Dec. 31.
“We had had some discussions about increasing the number of workers at all sites because of voter ID,” Ms. Deese said of the board’s review of staffing. “…We went out there and we’ve recruited more workers, we had the session over at the (Crystal Coast) Civic Center and that was very successful … and it sounds like we still need to increase some numbers (at sites).”
Ultimately, the panel agreed to review a staff recommendation for worker numbers at polling places at its February meeting.
Also at the meeting, the BOE:
- Approved outstanding meeting minutes.
- Approved its 2020 regular meeting schedule.
- Got an update on outstanding billing from the 2019 municipal elections.
- Agreed it would not pursue a proposal to use college and high school interns to staff polling places, as they would have to be paid.
- Heard an update from staff on ongoing safety assessments at polling sites.
- Heard the State Board of Elections had approved the name change for the Otway/Straits/Bettie precinct to Otway/Straits/Bettie/Gloucester.
- Heard an update on poll worker training.
- Discussed the county’s request for departments to submit a strategic plan. Staff said the county is not requiring a plan from the BOE.
- Reviewed plans for an upcoming state conference.