Victoria first stop for new Secretary of State's tour

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 20, 2013 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 19, 2013 at 10:20 p.m.

Victoria's election officials welcomed Texas' new secretary of state, John Steen, to town Wednesday.

Steen, who accepted office Nov. 27, took the informal meeting as an opportunity to meet area leaders, update them about his office and hear their concerns about the election process.

He said running an election is a complex position.

"It's a year-round job and we want to make sure people understand that," Steen said. "It's not something that can be considered part time anymore."

In 2012, the county's election personnel ran four elections, said Victoria County Elections Administrator George Matthews.

Although the secretary of state's office hosts an annual conference, Matthews said he appreciated the chance to talk directly with Steen.

The office is following pending legislation that could affect future elections, Steen said.

Director of Elections Keith Ingram said state legislators have filed more than 700 bills covering many topics, including the voter identification law, ballots by mail and election dates.

Voters can keep up with the legislation at the secretary of state's voter website, he said.

Matthews mentioned two specific bills he is watching. One would change the primary election date from Tuesday to Saturday, which would impact filing deadlines.

The other would bump the March primary to February, shortening filing deadlines to early November.

However, Matthews doubts that bill will pass, he said.

While Steen's visit was not part of a formal tour, Victoria is his first stop in meeting the state's election leaders, he said.

Matthews "has been on the job for 21 years," Steen said. "He is considered one of the best. We wanted to honor him by coming here first."

Many of Victoria's elected leaders have said apathy is their biggest opponent.

Steen's office is continuing campaigns to show Texans the importance of voting and registering to vote, he said.

"We want people to be aware of the information and resources we have," he said.



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