County Elections Administrator John Oldham made a case for additional support for the elections staff ahead of the November election at a May 5 Fort Bend County Commissioners Court budget meeting.

In a nutshell

Oldham requested additional funding and personnel for the elections department as part of the request portion of the county’s 2024 budget cycle.

He said the county’s election team is understaffed compared to other counties of a similar size. He said the team consists of 12 people, while indicating Hidalgo County has 22.

Oldham specifically highlighted the need for a full-time trainer role, saying consistent changes to election procedures leads to as many as 150 hours of training sessions before a general election. “We just can't keep doing that with part time staff,” he said.

Quote of note

“The training position to us is the most important thing maybe I've ever asked for in 15 years. It’s vital,” Oldham said.

By the numbers
  • The county is growing quickly: it had about 300,000 voters in 2008 and over 520,000 last November.
  • Oldham said the cost for mailing voter certificates could get $30,000 more expensive due to postal rate increases.
Zooming out

During the budget meeting, Oldham criticized Texas Senate Bill 990, a bill aiming to eliminate the countywide polling place program. After passing the Senate, the bill has been in the House elections committee since March 25.

Oldham said he hopes the House votes the bill down, calling it bad for voters. He said if the bill passes, the elections department could need an additional $500,000 “simply to run elections” due to needing to establish 40 to 45 new polling locations.

What’s next

The county’s fiscal year 2023-24 budget calendar states the county budget office will begin analyzing budget requests in June in preparation for a formal budget recommendation. Final budget hearings are expected at the end of July, with the final proposed budget expected to come in August.