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County elections goes social

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Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 10:14 pm

Cameron County Elections Administrator Chris Davis invites you to follow the department on its new Twitter page.

He’ll follow you back.

Twitter is a message-distribution system allowing users to post updates, links and photos in 140 characters or less.

Davis said the department’s profile, which went online last week, will be used to promote elections information, share election-related bills in the Texas Legislature and build virtual relationships with the Rio Grande Valley’s Twitter users.

“We’re also revamping the election website by putting up maps of precincts where folks can go and find out what precinct they live in,” Davis said. “They’ll just put in their driver license number or voter identification number and, ideally, we’ll have a drop-down list where people can download the map and save it to their computer.”

Currently the Elections Office just has a countywide map, but Davis wants maps of the individual precincts as well.

Creating a social media presence was one of his talking points when Davis interviewed for the position this month, he said.

He replaced Roger Ortiz, who led the office for 10 years. Ortiz recently retired but has been hired as a consultant to help the office catch up with some delinquent financial forms from the previous election that still need to be filed with the state.

While Davis said the office is dipping its toes into the vast pool of social media, the office doesn’t have immediate plans for a Facebook page.

Because the popular social media website is a two-way communication tool, Davis said he is wary of distractions it could cause and the time it would take to manage a page efficiently and successfully.

“If we get enough traction, we’ll consider other means. But Twitter, right now, serves our purpose,” he said.

However, it takes more than 140 characters to be an elections administrator, and Davis plans to tour the county and introduce himself to voters.

“One of our goals is to go out to various communities, including the smaller areas like La Feria and Rio Hondo, and introduce myself to the folks and introduce my staff and let them know we’re here,” he said. “We’ll talk to various communities, particularly ones that may trend toward the ballot-by-mail process where folks apply for and receive ballots by mail, and stress to them the importance of protecting their ballot and protecting the integrity of their vote.”

In a few months, Cameron County Emergency Management will tour communities giving its annual hurricane preparedness presentations.

“We may tag along with them and when they are done with their presentation we might talk a little bit about how and what we do and also talk about the integrity of their votes,” Davis said.

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