Kerr County Assessor/Tax Collector Bob Reeves is ready for a safe and secure election, but he does offer advice — fill the forms out correctly.
As Texas heads toward the Mar. 1 primary election, Reeves is ramping up for a busy election season — one with scrutiny at all levels. The specter of the 2020 election, where former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed election fraud, and the resulting actions from the Texas Legislature to button up elections are all in play in 2022.
Texas voters will go to the polls on Mar. 1 for primaries, but early voting starts on Feb. 14. From there, Kerrville voters will decide on May 7the race for the City Council and mayor, along with a possible general obligation bond. In that same election, voters across the state will consider a pair of constitutional amendments.
Voters will return to the polls on May 24 for runoff elections ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
For Reeves, though, his reality is that Kerr County elections are smooth, but his caution to voters is for those filling out the vote-by-mail applications. On the right side of the form, the Secretary of State's office asks for the form of identification used to register to vote. If you don't fill it out correctly, election officials reject the application.
Reeves recommends filling out the form using both your driver's license number and the last four digits of the social security card number. The form says only one is required, but Reeves says it's better to be safe than sorry on the form.
"The average person doesn't (know what they used) and they put one, and they use the other," Reeves said of the form's ID requirements. "So, what we're advising our citizens, our bosses, that when they fill out the application, they put both (numbers) down."
The issues with the forms are felt across the state, and some Texas counties report significant rejection rates. However, it's a correctable problem.
"We haven't seen it as bad," Reeves said. "Travis County, I think reported 25% rejections."
When it comes to the 2020 results, Reeves said there are no questions about the outcome. While there was a recount in the Ingram City Council race, Reeves said that was procedural because of the election's closeness. Texas audited the results in four of Texas' biggest counties at the behest of former President Donald Trump. The results of those audits did not change the outcome — one that Trump decisively won.
"We have not been questioned on the accuracy, or anything like that," Reeves said about the 2020 results.
What's different for Reeves' office is that poll watchers will have more access under Texas' new voting laws, Senate Bill 1 — which in part were authored by Rep. Andrew Murr, who represents Kerr County in Austin.
"We're implementing what the law says, every aspect of it," Reeves said. "Some of it won't apply to Kerr County because we are below the 55,000 population threshold."
That threshold means that Kerr County doesn't have to install surveillance cameras on its ballots or polling locations.
Reeves said the poll watchers would have more freedom but asking them to respect the process. In his tenure, he's only asked one poll watcher to leave.
Reeves said during his three years in office, he's rarely had an issue with poll watchers and other procedures. He credits that success to the experience of his staff, including Nadine Alford, the county's longtime elections coordinator and who has worked in the assessor/tax collector's office for 37 years.
Reeves said his equipment is secure and that none of his election computers are networked or have access to the internet. Reeves also takes plenty of other precautions, including having a deputy sheriff accompany back ballots from western Kerr County. Reeves said he's not worried about having ballots stolen but that the extra level of security assures confidence in the process.