Texas

Brazos constituency chief sums up results after another tough election season

Leading up to Election Day, the news was full of stories about the problems that the district election commissions faced.

Since President Donald Trump denied the results of the 2020 election, election denial has become a powerful narrative on the right. Many polling stations were inundated with calls, requests for entries, and threats from people who thought the results were rigged.

On Election Day, however, the process of actually voting this year went fairly smoothly in most areas of Texas. Trudy Hancock, Brazos County Election Organizer and President of the Texas Association of Election Administrators, spoke to the Texas Standard about adapting to new challenges during the election season.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: What was your biggest concern on Election Day? I know that many election officials throughout the state have decided that they will not participate in this election cycle. Could you say a little more?

“The organization of elections is not politics. Election management is our laws and rules… Politics is a dirty, emotional thing; elections, no,” says Trudy Hancock, an election organizer in Brazos County and president of the Texas Association of Election Administrators.
Photo courtesy of Trudy Hancock

Trudy Hancock: For Brazos County ahead of this election, we just wanted to have adequate staff, enough equipment, so that our voters have a good experience at the polling station. You know, a lot of young people, if it’s hard or something like that, it makes them not want to go back and vote again.

How smoothly things went in Brazos County, and could you tell us a little more about what you heard from some of your colleagues from other parts of the state?

In Brazos County, things went pretty smoothly. We had one establishment that opened a little late only due to technical problems with the equipment, but as soon as we launched them, everything went smoothly. We had a really good turnout that day, and most of our seats were pretty stable – pretty busy. Most of our locations had poll monitors, but most of our monitors here in Brazos County were very respectful. But I’ve heard from some counties that they had poll monitors that gave them some trouble.

What problems?

Well, you know, they have certain rules. Like, they can’t talk to voters. They’re not supposed to disrupt your elections, you know – testing people and stuff – and sometimes the poll monitor gets too enthusiastic and wants to start talking to the workers about what they’re doing wrong or what they perceive they are doing. wrong, maybe because they don’t understand the procedure. And so I know that we had a couple of counties that I’m friends with that had some concerns about some of their poll watchers.

How have you and your colleagues across the state had to adapt over the past few years as the elections themselves have become a more intense and socially and politically charged process?

It was. A lot of people tell me they can’t believe I like politics, and I tell them that election management is not politics. The election administration is our laws and regulations and their elections. Politics is a dirty, emotional thing; there are no elections. So, yes, we had to adapt a bit between 2020 when it was COVID and then moving into 22 with all the conspiracy theories and, you know, the talk about things not being done legally or with the integrity that is needed. be done.

I personally feel that here in Texas we have very smooth, fair electoral cycles. We have many checks and balances. Some of them are government sanctioned and some are just best practices that we implemented ourselves to properly reflect what happened in those elections.

I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that, in general, everyone agreed that the elections went smoothly. What do you think worked correctly? Was there anything the election organizers did to restore confidence? Was it because expectations had just risen to the point where many people were on edge?

I really hope we have been able to help people see that we are running elections fairly, and help squash some of those naysayers by giving them, you know, the reports they need to prove to themselves – not just to us – and to the people. what they say is that we have a smooth election with the security that needs to be in place to ensure everything is counted correctly. We want to make sure that every person who qualifies gets the right to vote and that that vote counts.

The newly elected state legislators have already begun to submit bills for the next legislative session, and I’m wondering if there’s anything that, if you heard them, you could say, “Here’s an obstacle; here is the problem we need to solve for the next go-around” – what would you say to them?

We do have some issues that the TAEA is going to meet with legislators on in the next session – some of them are about refining some of the changes that SB 1 made. We saw some good results come out of SB 1, but some things that some of our voters found it a little more difficult, so we hope to fix some of it. You know, it’s a learning process and just seeing what works and what doesn’t and how we can make those things flow more smoothly.

Let me ask you one more question, and sorry for the personal nature of this, but we’ve heard so much from the district election commissions and administrators in the run-up to the election and some people who, you know, decide, “I’m not getting paid.” enough to make this gig; this is too much”, the level of anxiety before election day and all that. You made a choice – you chose to persevere, and I’m wondering if you can say something about why.

I love my job. I don’t always like it. I have been in this field for 20 years. It’s just a part of me and I think most people who have been in this profession for a long time become part of who you are and so we take these attacks personally because it’s personal to us. And so, two weeks before the election, we begin early voting. I leave the house at 6am and don’t get home until 8pm so my husband feels like a widower but it’s just part of who we are and the way we live. And so I, frankly, sometimes thought about just leaving. But, you know, I’m here for the long haul, and I’m doing it to serve my community and the constituency of this county.

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