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Deputy elections director resigns

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Pasquotank County's elections office will lose its deputy director while its elections director is still out on leave, forcing the office to rely on part-time or outside staff as it prepares for a special election in July.

Deputy Elections Director Rebecca Creech said Wednesday that she's resigning on May 10 to take another job. She declined to say what type of job, though she indicated it's a public-sector position. She also said she's stepping down from the elections office to have more time for family.

Creech joined the Pasquotank Board of Elections in August 2014.

Creech's pending departure comes as Elections Director Kelli Price remains on maternity leave. She is set to return next month, County Manager Sparty Hammett reported last week.

Before going on leave, Price told the Pasquotank Board of Elections in March that she had intended her absence to not coincide with any elections, though she was not required to do so.

However, the unexpected death of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., in February has required the state to hold a special election to replace him.

A first primary was held Tuesday and, without a conclusive outcome in the Republican contest, a second primary is expected on July 9. Second-place GOP finisher Dr. Joan Perry has said she plans to request that primary, but State Board of Elections spokesman Pat Gannon indicated in an email Wednesday afternoon that she had yet to do so.

Gannon said absentee-by-mail voting for the second primary is expected to start on May 24, and early voting will begin June 19.

Those dates raise the prospect of the Pasquotank elections office lacking key staff during the run-up to the July 9 primary. Both Creech and Hammett said part-time staff will be in place after her resignation, and there will be no reduction in services between her resignation and Price's return.

The county has also reached out to the State Board of Elections to provide staffing assistance, Creech and Hammett said.

To that point, Gannon said “the state board will send representatives to the county to assist when necessary,” and the state board has “encouraged the county board to consider hiring additional office support, perhaps from a temp agency.”

Gannon also said the state board has encouraged the Pasquotank Board of Elections to “expedite the hiring of a new deputy director” who can be quickly trained for the job.

Hammett said last week that Creech will be missed, in part because she, as well as Price, are certified election administrators.

Creech commented that certification took a long time to acquire, and included a requirement to work a presidential election, but the program had been revamped recently.

Gannon said state law requires election directors to be certified, which confirms they know election law and procedures, but certification is optional for deputy directors. It requires training, testing, and “working in several election cycles,” he said.

Even when a deputy director is hired, Pasquotank election officials may remain concerned the office is understaffed.

At March's elections board meeting, Price and Creech said the state's pending implementation of photo identification for voters will require elections staff to issue IDs “upon request.” While convenient for voters, Price and Creech warned it could interfere with other essential tasks. It prompted them to ask the county to fund another position for the office.

Hammett said Wednesday he's reached no decision on that request.

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