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Interim elections chief oversees first vote

Sosebee-Hunter in line for permanent county post

POSTED: November 1, 2007 5:05 a.m.

This is the time of year Charlotte Sosebee-Hunter always looks forward to.

"I get a rush during election time," said Hunter, interim chief registrar and director of elections for Hall County. "I like dealing with numbers, research, anything that's solving a problem."

Hunter has worked as a Hall County elections clerk for the past 17« years. When former elections director Anne Phillips Lea retired in December, Hunter was appointed to the position by Superior Court Judge Andrew C. Fuller.

But Hunter is no stranger to the election process. She had been working as a senior teller for 4« years at what was First National Bank (now Regions Bank) in the building on Dawsonville Highway where the elections office is located.

"I was just looking for something different," Hunter said.

So in July 1989, with no elections experience, she applied for and was offered a county election clerk position. Her responsibilities included registering people to vote, handling elections and keeping voter registration data up to date.

When Lea started talking about her retirement a couple years ago, Hunter thought about possibly filling the elections director's position.

"I just never thought of this as being something that was in my picture," she said. "But I thought, ‘I can do the job. I know I can do this.'"

Hunter was confident she would be able to perform the duties of elections director because of the leadership she had in Lea for 17 1/2 years. "Anne was a good supervisor ... and just gave you an opportunity to see how everything works," Hunter said.

She said Lea made it easy for her co-workers to understand why they ask people for identification, why information has to be put in the computer system one way, why names on ballots have to be in a certain order.

"It was easy to come in here behind her," Hunter said.

Lea said working with Hunter was "delightful."  "I raised her," she said, laughing.

Though Hunter was well-equipped for her new position, "There's a lot of things I've had to learn now that I'm the driver of this car," she said.

She has learned how to order supplies from the Secretary of State's Office and put them in the computer system. She's been through a lot of training, including with the Georgia Elections Officials and the Voter Registrars Association of Georgia.

Hunter has also been trained on all of the equipment in her office, such as the computer server and express poll machines. Right now she is still serving as interim director, but said that is targeted to become permanent in November.

"I'm happy for her," Lea said. "She'll do a good job."

Hunter will put her skills into practice this week during early voting for the city of Gainesville's municipal general election.

Gainesville residents will vote on the Gainesville City Board of Education race. Election Day is Nov. 6. "We're ready," Hunter said.

Though election time gets stressful, "you have to really take it in stride," she said.

Hunter already is looking forward to the 2008 election. On Dec. 1, the Hall County elections office is relocating to its new home at 2285 Browns Bridge Road, which will provide more parking and space.
"We're so excited," she said. "We really expect a high voter turnout next year."

By that time, Hunter hopes to have more touch-screen units to make the voting process even easier. And by July, she wants to have sample ballots available to view on the county's Web site.

Hunter said having a good staff has helped her not to be nervous about the upcoming election. Most of the people she works with have at least two years of elections experience.

"I have a good group of ladies that enjoy what they're doing and you can tell they enjoy it," she said. "We just have fun in here."

They have fun, but are also able to efficiently do their jobs thanks to Lea.

"The county is in good standing because of her leadership," Hunter said. "And to model behind her I just think is good."



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