Charlotte Mullis Morgan
The woman in charge of making sure Hamilton County's elections run smoothly has spent nearly three decades assisting democracy.
She's helped voters exercise their rights and candidates meet their obligations to keep voters informed about how they're raising and spending money.
Much has changed since Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan first came to work for the Election Commission 29 years ago. People can vote early and election results are now put on the county's website almost as soon as they come in.
Mrs. Mullis-Morgan, 68, is a soft-spoken grandmother who is helpful when asked but shuns the spotlight. On May 4, the day of the county primary, she was appointed to administrator from chief deputy. She took over for Claude "Bud" Knowles, who died in April.
"I came in as just a deputy and started doing anything and everything," she said of coming to work for the commission.
People who know her call her as a class-act who treats everyone fairly.
Scott Allen, the new chief deputy in the office, called Mrs. Mullis-Morgan an "asset."
"She knows the ins and outs of preparing for elections," he said. "She works well with the public and is a good leader here. ... She's very fair to all the employees."
County Commissioner Larry Henry described her as "classy."
"I think she'll do a great job," he said. "She was more or less the interim head when Bud was sick, and she's been the deputy administrator for several years. She's done an outstanding job. I support her 100 percent."
As administrator, Mrs. Mullis-Morgan runs the elections office, overseeing 13 employees. She helps register people to vote and her office maintains campaign finance forms filed by candidates. Her husband is Byerly, and she has a son, Cole Mullis who lives in Oregon with her granddaughter Courtney, 18. Her daughter, Cathy Mullis-Atkinson, lives in Knoxville with her other two grandchildren, Ethan, 15, and Jacob, 13.
Mr. Knowles had been sick for a year before he died and Mrs. Mullis-Morgan had already become accustomed to running the day-to-day operations.
"We've just carried on what we did when Bud was here," she said.
She said she loves her job, has from the first day she came to work for the commission.
It's an important job because it involves taking care of the more than 207,000 registered voters and running an office with a fluctuating budget. This year, the budget is $1.6 million.
Even when candidates aren't running, she says there's always work to be done, making sure files are up to date and getting more people registered to vote.
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Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...