Breckenridge Texan

County Commissioners vote to create a new independent elections administrator position

County Commissioners vote to create a new independent elections administrator position
April 29
11:27 2024

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Following a lengthy executive session during their meeting last Monday, Stephens County Commissioners voted to create an independent elections administrator position for the county.

County Judge Michael Roach said the person’s job would be to administrate all elections that the county is responsible for hosting.

“After an extended conversation with our legal counsel, County Attorney Gary Trammell, the county discussed in Executive Session the legal issues we’ve had, potential issues with elections in Stephens County, and the County has decided that the best course of action is to create (an) independent elections administrative position,” Roach said when the commissioners court resumed regular session. “The county would hire this person pursuant to the election statute, which we’ll flesh out in the future.”

The current elections administrator, Tax Assessor/Collector Christie Latham, was also included in the Executive Session discussions.

The primary objective of the new position will be to administer all elections under the county’s jurisdiction. According to Roach, the move aims to relieve the burden of managing elections alongside the other existing duties of the Stephens County Tax Assessor, who is also responsible for the county’s elections.

“Elections are just getting way too complicated to throw that burden on an elected official as well as their other duties,” Roach said. “So, it looks like the best (action) for future elections is to create that position, hire somebody, train them, and run it that way.”

In an interview following the meeting, Latham said that she agrees with the idea of hiring an elections administrator. “I think that it is an absolutely wonderful, overdue idea,” she said. “We’ve been needing it for so long. People don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, and a full-time person needs to be dedicated to proper administration of the elections.”

Although the elections administrator will be responsible for running elections and for all of the legal reporting responsibilities with the Secretary of State’s office, Latham said, the county commissioners will still expect the tax office employees to help out during the elections.

“The commissioners have told us they expect us to be able to continue to provide that help,” she said. “But, as far as answering to the Secretary of State, that will be solely on the part of the election administrator. They’ll be the one to sign off on everything and do all the reports.”

Additionally, Latham said, between elections the administrator will be responsible for things like staying on top of any changes in the election laws, making sure the county is in compliance with current election laws and filing any necessary paperwork, as well as testing the county’s voting machines before elections.

“There’s enough work to keep a full-time person busy just learning and staying up with the laws and rules changes,” she said. “All of that alone will keep someone busy.”

Latham said she is not sure yet how involved the new administrator will be with local elections, like city, hospital and school board elections, but at a minimum they will be providing voter registration rolls and being available to answer any questions the local officials may have, such as whether someone’s registered to vote.

Roach said the county intends to advertise the position widely to attract qualified candidates who can competently fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

The selection process for the new administrative position will involve a committee including the county clerk, county judge, tax assessor-collector, and county chairs for both the Republican and Democratic parties.


Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Tax Assessor-Collector Christie Latham speaks to commissioners during the April 22 meeting. Following an executive session in the meeting, commissioners voted to create a independent elections administrator position for the county. Latham currently serves as the elections administrator for the county. as well as the tax assessor-collector.  (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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