At a time when we have just completed one stage of our democratic business of voting
on candidates to fill many of our local government (city, school district, etc.)
positions and to choose who will be our parties’ nominees for office (county, state and
federal) in the General Election in November, we voters — and the candidates —
might just wish all the signs would go away and get on with our business.
But, not so fast! We do have Run-Off Primary Elections coming up on July 31.
Who your party’s candidate will be on the November General Election ballot is
important. Please participate.
Putting on our elections is serious business. It is also very complex and involves
many persons working together to make them as fair, legal, and cost-effective as possible.
Under Texas law, counties may choose to create the position of Elections Administrator
to handle elections and all voter registration responsibilities. Brewster County wisely did so
a decade or more ago and it worked well for some time. Due to some very serious errors
in connection with the 2008 Primary Election, the Brewster County Elections Commission,
of which I was a member at the time, unanimously recommended to Commissioners Court that the position be abolished. They did so. My vote in support of that recommendation was, I now
realize, a serious mistake.
One result of that action was to place the responsibility for the conduct of elections on the County
Clerk and all voter registration responsibility on the County Tax Assessor-Collector. These are
two elected positions which are full-time jobs in themselves without these added election-related
duties. Those individuals have worked diligently to meet those needs, but it is an unreasonable
burden to impose on them. Employment of a part-time person to assist with very complex and
stressful matters for $10 an hour simply does not work, and results have been been very mixed.
It is not sustainable, nor is it fair to those involved or to our voters.
Brewster County needs an Elections Administrator. The county’s budget preparation process begins soon. The re-creation of this office by our Commissioners Court, at a salary level which will attract and retain a person with the requisite capabilities, needs to happen NOW.
This, by the way, is not a partisan issue amongst Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Greens.
We all want and deserve fair and cost-effective elections. Like national defense, schools or roads,
you don’t get good elections without cost. My view on this is based on more than twenty years of
direct, hands-on work with our elections.
I hope you will encourage your Commissioner to work to get this in next year’s budget.
More to come later.