A fair count

Election Coordinator Nadine Alford works in her Kerr County Courthouse office, where she makes sure elections for all the political entities in Kerr County are transparent, accurate, and fair.

Nadine Alford says she wears two hats, as the chief deputy of the Kerr County Tax Office, and as the elections coordinator.

As elections coordinator she says she’s in charge of setting up elections for Kerr County, as well as the jurisdictions within the county. She coordinates with the political parties active in the county for their primaries, contracts with the cities of Kerrville and Ingram for their elections, works with adjoining counties in the 198th and 216th District Court office elections, and gets information from the State of Texas for state and national offices.

“Of the 20 precincts we run, 12 are in Kerrville and the rest in the county,” she says. “We also have elections for independent school district boards. That includes Kerrville, Ingram, Hunt, Divide, and parts of Comfort, Harper and Medina. Medina ISD cuts into a bit of South Kerr County, so just for them I have to track 15 voters scattered across three Kerr County precincts.”

The first step is to register Kerr County voters and report them to the state. Alford says, “Most of the new eligible residents are caught at the Department of Public Safety office when they get a new Texas driver’s license, or change their TDL address. People who need to register or update their registration can also come into our office. The County Clerk helps by including a registration card in the packet of information sent with marriage licenses, since that often involves changing someone’s name or moving. We also have a program which commissions Deputy Registrars, who have the authority to provide voters with registration cards at various events, and deliver them to us once they are filled in.”

When an election looms, she says her setup begins. She has to find enough workers to provide an election judge, an alternate, and a clerk for each polling location, plus assistants for busy locations.

Then she has to order ballots, which are different depending on the voter’s address. She says, “We have four precincts, and within each precinct we divide city residents from those living out in the county, then which school district they’re in. For primary elections, the voting is also divided by political party.”

As the election gets closer there are deadlines for inspecting the voting equipment, including the ballot boxes where ballots are deposited, and the “poll pads,” or laptops where voters sign in. “The ballot box has a ‘V-drive.’ We have to send them back and forth to our contractor, who installs the voting software. The poll pads are programmed from the state, which provides the ‘Official List of Registered Voters’.”

When those voters reach the polling place, Alford says they should have their voter registration card and a photo ID card. The photo ID can be a Texas driver’s license, a Texas personal ID card issued by DPS for non-drivers, a Texas handgun license, a U.S. citizenship certificate with photo, a U.S. military ID card with photo, or a U.S. passport. In addition, voters who have none of these can get a Texas Election ID certificate, good only for voting, from DPS.

Alford says the ballot boxes count the votes as soon as the ballot is dropped in, and keeps the paper ballots secure in a metal box. Once voting is complete each ballot box’s reporting device is plugged into the counting computer, which generates vote totals. Then the paper votes are securely stored in case there’s a question.

“Our system works very well,” Alford says. “Vote counting is transparent, accurate, and fair. In the Nov. 3 election in Kerr County we were finished by 11 p.m.”

For her other “hat,” Alford says as chief deputy she helps with the other two functions of the tax office, motor vehicle registration and collecting property taxes.

Alford says she was technically born in Fredericksburg, because at the time it was the closest hospital to her parents’ home in Comfort. Alford graduated from Comfort High School in 1980, then earned an associate’s degree in secretarial science from Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde.

She says she met Brad Alford when they were in 4-H together. He was working for the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office in May of 1991, when he took Alford to Red Lobster for a first date. They married in March of 1992, but Brad passed away in 2007.

Alford says, “After college, I worked in San Antonio for a year, then at Schreiner Bank for a year. I started in the Kerr County Clerk’s Office in 1985, working with elections. In 2008 the county reorganized, and when they moved voting to the County Tax Office I became the elections coordinator.”

She says her grandparents, Martin and Selma Spenrath, owned property in the Kerr County part of Comfort. They deeded 80 acres of it to Alford’s parents, Lester and Lucille Grosenbacher, and they passed it down to Alford. “I sold off five acres,” she says. “But I’m the third generation living on my 75 acres with my horses, cats and dogs.”

Alford says, “My main hobby is team roping. When they let the steer out of the chute, my partner and I chase him. The ‘header’ is responsible for lassoing the steer around the horns. I’m the ‘heeler,’ and it’s my job to catch the steer’s two hind feet with my rope. It doesn’t always work, but it’s always fun.”

She says she is active in the Thousand Hills Cowboy Church, and also enjoys travelling. “I have two girlfriends, Karen Kordzik and JoAnn Koch, and we like to tour mountains and other natural areas.”

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