The office of clerk of the county court, or county clerk's office, has been in existence since 1836, when it superseded the office of escribano of Spanish and Mexican Texas. Under the Constitution of 1876 the county clerk was to be elected biennially; in 1954, however, a constitutional amendment changed the term of office to four years. The main duties of the county clerk are to serve as clerk of the county court and the county commissioners' court, act as recorder of deeds and other instruments, issue marriage licenses, and take depositions. The clerk is also responsible for conducting countywide special and general elections and for handling absentee voting. In counties of less than 8,000 population the office of county clerk is combined with that of clerk of the district court.