By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer •
Hoke County Board of Elections Secretary John Harry announced this week in a letter to the editor that he plans to resign from his position, as soon as a replacement to fill his seat is identified.
In the letter this week, Harry said that the board, which is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans, is “partisan in practice” and “cooperation does not exist.”
Harry addressed the other board members at a recent meeting informing them of his plans, reading the statement he submitted.
“I try to be apolitical in the fulfillment of my duties as a member of the Hoke County Board of Elections. I would like to believe our members believe the same. Unfortunately our board, like many, are partisan in practice, and cooperation does not exist,” he said.
In North Carolina, each county Board of Elections is made up of five members including three members of the sitting governor’s political party, and two members of the other party. Hoke’s board members include Harry and Gene Shelnutt as the Republican representatives, and Chair Gloria B. Hill, Walter Blue and Lornette McCaskill as the Democrat representatives.
Harry went on to include a statement that he planned to resign, presented to the elections board.
“With this, I who have had a passion to support not a man but every man with honor and compassion, have decided to submit my resignation from the position of a member of the Hoke County Board of Elections Board, effective as soon as my replacement will assume my position as a board member,” he said at the meeting. “Until then, I will remain in the position held such as there will not be a lapse in membership on the Hoke County Board of Elections.”
Shelnutt inquired about the specification that Harry intended to wait until a replacement was found before leaving the board.
“I just want to make clear Mr. Harry’s resignation is contingent upon replacement,” Shelnutt said.
Harry confirmed that was correct. “There will be no gap,” he said.
Harry said in the meeting he had written a letter to the chairman of the GOP in Raleigh and a letter to the chair of the State Board of Elections with the information of his resignation plans.
Board of Elections Director Towanna Jackson said in the meeting she would contact the state and confirm the process for replacing Harry. The board also held a closed session at the end of the meeting. The meeting was recorded and uploaded to a Youtube account.
Under state guidelines, the local Republican Party will have the responsibility for nominating a replacement. The Hoke County Board of Elections is charged with preparing for and carrying out primary and general elections for local voters, including setting polling places and hours and handling any complaints or issues that might come up during elections. The local board has the authority to send matters to the state board, if they run into a problem that goes beyond the scope of what its members can address