TAC Associate General Counsel Paul Miles is considered one of the foremost experts on Texas election law. Miles bristles uncomfortably at the assertion — "It's all just a bit much," he says — but with more than 30 years of specialized experience in election law, it is an apt descriptor.
On a recent day when County magazine interviewed him, he had already taken three calls from county officials reeling from Texas Attorney General Opinion KP-411, which discusses the availability of election records through the Public Information Act.
In fact, changes to election laws during the 87th Legislature, along with the ongoing political scrutiny of elections, have kept counties on their toes for the past year.
"Counties are the key player in elections, and with so many changes and a limited amount of resources, the stakes are high," Miles said. "What happens in November will probably inform the issues that get addressed by the Legislature."
To help counties continue to implement safe and effective elections, TAC has created the County Elections Academy, an education program for election administrators, county and district clerks, tax assessor-collectors and others who are responsible for administering elections. Miles helped develop the curriculum for the event, which hosted 122 virtual attendees during its first event in October.
Miles is one of five associate general counsels at TAC who assist counties with legal research when they contact TAC's Legal Helpline. Last year, Miles fielded 320 calls from counties needing help with election laws, as well as county operations, commissioners court proceedings, the Public Information Act and more.
"TAC won the lottery when Paul Miles joined. When county members call, he listens intently and works to find the answers they need. Don’t let his humility fool you. He really is the state’s authority on election law."
— General Counsel Michael Pichinson
Since joining the Legal Services department in 2011, Miles has helped county officials answer thousands of legal questions.
One of those inquiries prompted Miles and others to explore the feasibility of providing more guidance to counties about population-bracketed laws. As a result, last year TAC launched its Population Bracket Map to help counties quickly identify such laws that apply to them. Miles is also credited with co-authoring one of TAC's foundational legal publications, Pitfalls and Perils of Public Office.
Miles was born and raised in Travis County and achieved his undergraduate and law degrees from The University of Texas at Austin.
He started his career as a clerk in Gov. Ann Richards' office before moving to the Secretary of State's Office and focusing on election law. He worked there for 20 years before coming to TAC.
"TAC won the lottery when Paul Miles joined," said General Counsel Michael Pichinson. "When county members call, he listens intently and works to find the answers they need. Don't let his humility fool you. He really is the state's authority on election law."