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A county clerk is an elected or appointed official who handles a wide range of duties, from overseeing all elections to serving as chief clerk of the county court system. He or she maintains birth, marriage, and death records, and is responsible for legal publications. The county clerk also serves the county commission as its secretary, setting the agenda, recording minutes and votes, and handling administrative tasks for commissioners.
As chief election officer, a clerk maintains voter registration rolls and registers new voters. He or she collects fees and financial disclosure reports filed by candidates vying for public office. The clerk is responsible for appointing, recruiting, and training election workers and overseeing ballots, voting equipment, and polling places. When citizens submit petitions to recall a public official, or an initiative for the ballot, the clerk handles the documents in accordance with state and federal law.
In some counties, especially small or rural counties, the clerk is also the county recorder. This position handles hundreds or thousands of documents each day, depending on the size of the county. Every document is routinely copied and maintained on microfilm for permanent preservation. A county clerk/recorder makes property records available to the public upon request.
All recorded land transfers, foreclosures, and trust deeds are commonly handled by the clerk/recorder. He or she has frequent contact with title companies and banks after property is sold or when a lien is filed against it. All recording fees are collected by the county clerk/recorder and turned over to the comptroller’s office. In most counties, the clerk prepares an annual report of all the activity in the office.
When the county clerk is also the chief court clerk, the duties can be more varied. This person might file court cases and be present during court proceedings. He or she may sign warrants, judgments, or court orders, and keeps records of divorces. The clerk supervises other employees working in the county courthouse and is in charge of hiring and firing them.
Some county clerks are tasked with keeping records for tax purposes. They maintain tax rolls and monitor special assessments, in addition to mailing tax and assessment documents to property owners. One of the duties associated with this position is collecting property tax payments from citizens, and recording those payments.
Duties of a county clerk vary by region but may also include processing passport and homestead applications. Some clerks maintain an inventory of the county’s assets and prepare reports on county debt. In addition, he or she might be responsible for keeping records of all claims and lawsuits filed against the county.
It's always important to remember that the title "county clerk" is one that carries much more responsibility than the name implies. That person is, more often than not, the record keeper for the county government and, as such, deserves a lot of respect.