Politics & Government

January 1, 2014

Top Tarrant election official to leave after March primary

Steve Raborn, Tarrant County’s top election official, will return to Louisiana to become president of Votec, which sells elections-related technology.

Steve Raborn will be leaving his post as the county’s top elections official after the March 4 primary.

Raborn, who has served as Tarrant County’s elections administrator since 2006, said he has accepted a top job with Votec — a San Diego, Calif.-based vendor of elections-related technology — and will be moving back to his home state of Louisiana in about three months.

“Tarrant County has been great to work for,” Raborn, 47, said this week. “I’ve enjoyed my time here. We’ve enjoyed Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

“But our parents are getting older and this is a golden opportunity for us to go home” to help them.

Raborn will stay here through March 14, and then become president of Votec, which focuses on voter registration and election management software.

“I think he has done a great job,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “He has been able to get along very well with both party chairs. They have found him to be fair and impartial.

“We have been very pleased with Steve,” he said. “And we appreciate him giving us plenty of time to find a replacement.”

Searching for a new elections official

Raborn turned in his resignation to Tarrant County in mid-December but said he will stay through the March 4 primary.

The five-member Tarrant County Elections Commission that will hire his replacement is made up of Whitley, Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright, County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia and the chairs of the county’s Republican and Democratic parties.

The group will soon kick off a search for a new elections administrator, putting out ads seeking applicants. If the initial search isn’t broad enough, they will expand their search and continue looking until they find the right candidate, officials say.

Ideally, they will be able to find a replacement before Raborn leaves.

But finding the right person will be easier said than done, local officials said.

“Clearly [Steve Raborn] has done a such a great job,” Garcia said. “We are so proud of our record here in Tarrant County and how we are able to have so many polling places and work with both parties to make sure everybody has a chance to vote.

“He has just been a very steady rock for this whole process for us,” she said. “We will be looking for someone else to also bring professionalism and collaboration between the two parties. … He is leaving big shoes to fill.”

Moving on

For Raborn, this move is about going home.

When the Baton Rouge native and Louisiana State University alumnus arrived in Tarrant County in 2006, he followed in the footsteps of longtime administrator Robert Parten, who spent decades heading Tarrant County’s elections office.

During his tenure here, he helped usher in the frequent use of electronic voting machines and oversaw one of the biggest election turnouts ever, as massive numbers of voters headed to the polls for the presidential primary and general elections in 2008.

More than a dozen years ago, Raborn worked for Votec, when he served as director of customer service in San Diego.

He moved on to the post of elections administrator in Fort Bend County near Houston, where he worked for about seven years before he was hired to come to Tarrant County.

Now he returns to Votec, to serve as the company president, since the “CEO is looking to semi-retire over the next few years,” Raborn said. “They’ve asked me to come in and help with the day-to-day operations.”

Now county officials will begin the search for his replacement.

“Obviously our elections are critically important to everyone,” Wright said. “Steve brought a level of efficiency that we will miss and hope we can replicate with the next person.

“It’s not an easy job,” he said. “It’s a non-partisan job but it’s a highly political position.”

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