County board will need to appoint member to little-understood election commission

Poll workers returning ballot boxes in November general election.
April 23rd, 2021     Government & Politics

Due to the recent death of Wes Creighton, supervisors are going to have to fill one of the most important and little-known local offices: Union County Election Commissioner.

Creighton represented the First Supervisor’s District on the commission.

Most people know little about the election commission; some don’t even know that one exists.

It’s important in that the county’s progress depends on its officials being elected in a fair and honest manner. The election commission’s job is to see to that.

Being an election commissioner requires dedication.

It’s not a full-time job, but really more than a part-time job. The pay is not high.

Commissioners are required by statute to meet on certain days in relation to elections. In Union County, they are also allowed to meet up to 75 days a year for routine business plus up to 25 days needed to actually hold elections.

The salary is $100 per day and $150 on the actual day of an election. They can be compensated for mileage only while holding an election.

Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford acts as county registrar. She registers voters, keeps those records and performs many tasks in connection with preparing for and actually holding elections.

The commissioners periodically revise those voter rolls.

They remove names of persons who have died, requested to be removed (such as moving to a different place and being registered there), been adjudicated non compos mentis or convicted of a crime that requires disenfranchisement. They also hear appeals concerning contested registration.

The commissioners hold county, state and federal general or special elections but are not responsible for municipal elections or political party primary elections. They do provide the pollbooks for municipal elections, and may contract to help with party primaries and municipal elections.

Holding an election is a complex undertaking.

Commissioners prepare ballots, certify candidates and acquire and provide voting devices and materials. They have to insure that each vote meets legal standards through a variety of cross-checks and keep extensive records pertaining to each election. Commissioners train election holders and test, then seal, the voting machines assuring security.

Of course they oversee the actual counting of votes.

While it will be up to the board of supervisors to name an interim election commissioner, they will likely defer to the recommendation of First District Supervisor Sam Taylor since the vacancy is in his district. He is working with the election officials as well.

However, anyone who wants to serve must be a qualified voter in the First District, must travel to undergo training and successfully pass a test on completion of training to be certified.

Also, the appointment will be short-term. The person will only hold the post until November 2 when a special election will be placed on the ballot for someone to fill the remainder of the term that ends in 2023.

The commission can function with only four members as long as a quorum is present. However, with upcoming municipal and special elections later this year, as well as a need to continually update poll books, supervisors need to fill the vacancy as soon as is practical.

Current election commissioners are Bill Azlin, District 2; Barbara Reed, District 3; Mike Beam, District 4; and Wayne Wilhite, District 5.

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