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The Mid-Term Elections Start Here

Russ Towers “Under the Red Hat!”
Russ Towers “Under the Red Hat!”

If you are going to talk about the elections, who is running, when to vote, and even where, then there is only one place to get all of those answers and that is at the County Elections Administrator’s Office in the Courthouse Annex building (old Post Office) on Lamar Avenue.

If you have never been to the office and met Russ Towers, the County Elections Administrator, then you are in for a big surprise. Russ is quick to smile and eager to offer election information. His assistant Tricia Johnson is equally helpful.

Russ grew up in the Paris area and was a 1994 North Lamar graduate. He attended Paris Junior College in their nursing program. He started his working career as a waiter working for Red Lobster in Greenville before moving into a management position. He worked for Red Lobster at several of their other locations in Dallas and North Carolina before moving back to Paris where he managed a local business. In 2007 he went to work for the County Clerk’s Office working the elections department.

The County Commissioners created the job position of the County Elections Administrator and the County Elections Committee comprised of the County Clerk, County Judge, County Tax Assessor and the Chairman for each the Republican and Democratic County Parties are the ones that appoint the position. During the early voting period of the 2008 General Election cycle on October 1, 2008 Russ moved out of the County Clerk’s Office and was appointed as the County Elections Administrator.

Russ’ job description as a Department Head is to assist the County Judge and Commissioners Court with calling elections, notice of elections and publications. He reports to two boards, the County Commissioners and the County Elections Commission. It is Russ’s job, with the help of Tricia to ensure that everything goes smoothly with an election from executing contracts with party chairs for the primaries to recruiting and training poll worker volunteers to investigating election related complaints.

The deadline to register to vote  is no later than October 6th which is 30 days prior to the election. You can do that by filling out a Voter Registration Card and dropping it in the mail, filling it out at their office or during your driver’s license renewal at the DMV, but it must be post marked by the deadline.

The deadline to request a Mail in Ballot for this election cycleis October 24th and it must be received in the Elections Office by that date. The voting days and times for this year are as follows:

Early Voting Dates

  • October 20th to 24th (Mon-Fri) from 8am-5pm
  • October 25th & 26th (Sat & Sun) from 8am-12pm
  • October 27th to 31st (Mon-Fri) from 8am-6pm

Election Day is November 4th and they will be open from 7am-7pm.

Mail-In Ballots must be received in the Elections Office no later than 7pm on the 4th of November. Military members stationed or deployed overseas have an additional Six days and their ballots must be received by November 10th.

A question that the Elections Office gets often is that of the “Straight Party” selection on the ballot. The way it works is you can select either Democrat or Republican under the straight party option, scan your ballot and be on your way at One bubble and done. However, there is an alternative to that and/or going through and selecting bubbles for each individual race on the entire ballot. You can select Straight Party at the beginning and also vote for individual races. So if you vote straight party for either party, you can still bubble in the opposing party’s candidate for a particular race. For that single race vote, the bubble there supersedes the straight party option for only that particular race position. One caveat to the straight party vote is if a candidate running in any particular race as unopposed and in the opposite party of your straight vote, they will not receive a vote unless you bubble in next to their name.

After the Election Day is over, the Elections Office does not take a vacation either. They have to wait for the military votes to arrive, provisional votes have to be investigated and verified during the 6 days after, and then after the 7th day the votes can be submitted. The Commissioner’s Court certifies and reports the results to the Secretary of State.

The County Elections Administrator’s Office handles all elections for the General, County, Party Primaries, PJC Board of Regents and City Council. Another election item they handle is for “Local Options” such as liquor elections for liquor and beer/wine sales, or for the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants and off-premises consumption such as the ones held in Lamar County in May of 2009. They are also available for school ISD election services.

Written by “under the Red Hat.” The Red Hat is un-biased, un-affiliated and represents all of us here in our community. If you have an idea, a comment, or want to know more about people in our area that are making an impact on our lives through their profession, life, or cause, then just let us know who you would like to see “Under the Red Hat!” In the first series of articles the red hat will be going in depth to look at the upcoming November 2014 elections.

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