One of the juiciest perks enjoyed by council chief executives is the role of returning officer, and the untimely departure of Bryn Parry Jones in Pembrokeshire means that Mark James is now the doyen of the very exclusive club of local authority returning officers in the south-west.
Why extremely well-paid chief executives should be paid huge bonuses for overseeing elections is a mystery, and sadly Plaid Cymru's proposals to reform the system were stonewalled by Labour a couple of years ago.
The result is that 2016 will produce a bumper crop of fees for Mark James, what with the elections to the Assembly, the police commisisoner election and the upcoming EU referendum. We won't get much change out of £30,000, and if that was not generous enough, Mr James can also decide when it is most tax efficient to pay himself. How many council staff entitled to claim "expenses" can submit a claim and be paid in advance for the work to be carried out?
Mr James has had plenty of practice at organising elections over the years, so perhaps the bungling we have seen this year is down to the loss of Bryn Parry Jones's guiding hand.
First, Carmarthenshire County Council lost applications for postal votes. This was blamed on a technical issue at the printers.
If we are to believe that, a lot of personal information vanished into the ether, with the council not having kept any electronic files of the data. Perhaps it was inscribed on parchment with quill pens and posted to the printers who binned it as junk mail. But whatever happened, it was of course somebody else's fault.
Next, 28,000 postal ballots for the Welsh Assembly elections were sent out with a serious wording error, meaning that the council had to write to everyone and send out a new batch at almost the last minute.
Anyone who has used the incorrect papers to vote will find that their vote does not count. But don't panic. Here is the council's explanation.
Got that? Bin the grey version, and use the tan coloured papers. Here they are:
You may be forgiven for thinking that the new ballot papers look, um, grey.
A concerned old age pensioner contacted Y Cneifiwr to say, "the original mid and west Wales ballot paper was pale green, not
grey. The new ballot paper is grey not tan . The instructions tell us
to jettison the old "grey" ballot paper and replace it with the new
"tan" ballot paper. Presumably therefore if we send back the new ballot
paper which is not tan, but grey, they will think it's the old grey,
but actually green, ballot paper and it will be null and void."
And the bad news may not stop there. The regional voting system is complex and a very small number of votes could decide the fate of some candidates, opening up the possibility of legal challenge and, in the worst case scenario, a re-run of the election and yet more money for Mr James.