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Harrison fires its elections director

By Robin Y. Richardson ryrichardson@hnews-journal.com
Dec. 12, 2014 at 11 p.m.

MARSHALL - The Harrison County Commissioners Court unanimously voted Friday to fire the county's elections administrator after November's election was plagued by problems.

The Harrison County Elections Commission earlier Friday recommended the court terminate Becky Dotson.

The termination was effective immediately, as requested by the commission.

"As you all know, the Texas Election Code provides that if there is a recommendation of the elections commission to terminate the elections administrator in the county where the elections administrator is the primary election official, then that recommendation of the elections commission would then be confirmed to be effective by the majority of the county commissioners court," said Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor. "That's why this agenda was set today."

Pct. 1 Commissioner William Hatfield made the motion to follow the recommendation of the elections commission. Pct. 3 Commissioner James Greer seconded it.

Dotson was in her 11th month on the job. The recommendation to fire her came as a result of issues raised during her administration of the Nov. 4 election.

Ballots had to be counted by hand, and Harrison County's results weren't known until almost a full day after polls closed.

Dotson refused to comment Friday.

The commission met for about an hour before the commissioners court's special meeting, which lasted about 10 minutes.

The elections commission consists of the local Republican and Democratic party chairs, county judge, county clerk and county tax assessor.

Following Friday's meetings, the Republican and Democratic chairs expressed their support of the move.

"The right thing was done," said Wes Brumit, Republican Party chair.

Democratic Party Chair Maxine Golightly, who has been the most vocal about Dotson's handling of the election, said the commission knew the termination was bound to happen.

"For more than two months we've known this," she said.

"People weren't able to vote, and there's some that still didn't receive voter registration cards," Golightly said.

She said that in October, Taylor called a special meeting of the elections commission in which the group addressed concerns Golightly had about the election. She said although the commission voted to approve her recommendation for officials to preserve all documents relating to the 2014 general election, including applications for ballots by mail, notations that ballots were sent and when, ballots returned, and voter registration, she hasn't received confirmation that the request has been fulfilled.

Golightly said although she feels the termination of Dotson is a good step in restoring the confidence of Harrison County voters; she believes more needs to be done.

"I feel like we've done the right thing, but, in the meantime, we still need to investigate it and (find out) why it happened, so it'll never happen again," Golightly said of the errors that took place during the election.



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