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Election Administration in Texas

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Election Types and Dates

Election Dates

Upcoming Primary Elections

The primary election for state and county offices, and the Presidential preference primary, will be held on March 1, 2016. If a primary runoff election is necessary, it will be held on May 24, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Texas Election Calendar [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 41.007 [link]

Upcoming General Elections

The general election will be held on November 8, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Texas Election Calendar [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 41.002 [link]

How is a nominee determined?

How is a nominee determined (caucus, primary, convention)?

For political parties whose gubernatorial candidate received at least 20% of the vote in the previous gubernatorial general election, such as the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, candidates are nominated by primary elections. For political parties whose gubernatorial candidate received less than 20% of the vote but more than 2% of the vote in the previous gubernatorial general election, the political party can choose to nominate its candidates either by primary election or by convention. All other political parties' candidates are nominated by convention.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 172.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 172.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 181.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 181.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 182.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 191.001 [link]

Political Party Affiliation

Can voters register by party in the state?

No. Registered voters affiliate with a political party by making an "oath of affiliation." An unaffiliated voter can make the oath can be made at any time, including at the polls on the day of a party's primary election or convention. After making the oath, the voter will receive an "affiliation certificate" that describes the voter's party affiliation (except that the voter will not receive a certificate if the voter affiliates at the polls during a runoff primary election, unless the voter requests a certificate). If a voter makes an oath of affiliation during an election year, the voter cannot change their party affiliation until after the election year ends.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.006 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.007 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.008 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.009 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.009 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.012 [link]

Texas Voter Registration Application [link]

Must voters be registered with a political party if they would like to vote on that party’s candidates in a partisan primary election (i.e., are primaries open or closed)?

Yes, but Texas's primary elections are semi-open. Voters may choose to affiliate with a political party at any time during an election year, including at the polls on the day of a party's primary election or convention, by making an oath of affliation. After making the oath, voter will be issued an "affiliation certificate" that describes their affiliation, and the voter can use it to vote in their political party's primary election or convention. However, after a voter affiliates with a political party during an election year, the voter cannot change their party affiliation or vote in another party's primary or convention until the next election year.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.006 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.007 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.008 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.009 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.010 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.012 [link]

Texas Voter Registration Application [link]

When can a voter change or switch their party affiliation?

If a voter affiliates with a political party during an election year, the voter can change their party affiliation once the election year ends. If a voter affiliates with a political party during an odd-numbered year, the voter can change their party affiliation starting on the first day that a potential candidate can apply to appear on the primary election ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 162.010 [link]

Voter Registration

Who Can Vote?

Can someone pre-register to vote if they will not be 18 years old by the next election? If so, who?

To register to vote, a person must live in Texas and the county where they are registering to vote. If a person's home has no address, then the person must, when registering to vote, write on the application the address at which the person receives mail and a short description of the location of their home.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-19)

Texas Elec. Code § 13.002 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.001 [link]

Can 17-year-olds who will be 18-year-olds by the general election vote in the primary?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 11.002(a)(1) [link]

Does the state take away the right to vote from persons convicted of certain crimes? If so, what crimes?

No one convicted of a felony can vote while in prison or serving any part of their sentence, including any period of probation, parole, or supervision.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.001(a)(4) [link]

If people lose the right to vote because of a criminal conviction, can they regain the right to vote? How?

After a person convicted of a felony completes their sentence, including any period of probation, parole, or supervision, the person regains their right to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.001(a)(4) [link]

Voter Registration Options

Is fully online voter registration available? (i.e., can voters fill in and submit an online application without printing and signing it?)

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Texas Voter Registration Application [link]

Does the state accept the National Mail Registration Form?

Yes. Click here to download the form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

National Mail Registration Form [link]

Is the state required to register voters at public assistance agencies and driver's license agencies, per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

U.S. Department of Justice website [link]

Student-Specific Rules

Does the state have specific rules on students registering to vote or voting?

A student can choose to vote at the address they live at while attending school or at their parent's address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 1.015 [link]

Tex. Att'y Gen. Op. GA-0141 (2004) [link]

Voter Registration Deadlines

When is the voter registration deadline?

The 30th day prior to an election. If the 30th day falls on a weekend or legal holiday, the registration deadline is pushed to the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.143 [link]

How is the deadline enforced for mailed applications?

Postmark - A mailed voter registration application must be postmarked by the voter registration deadline.

If a person faxes their voter registration application and it is received by the voter registration deadline, a mailed copy of the voter registration application must be received within four days.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.143 [link]

Voter Registration Drives

Are there restrictions on getting voter registration forms?

Texas law does not directly address this issue. The Secretary of State indicates that county voter registrars should provide volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs) with applications containing the county return address, but indicates that if a VDR’s county voter registrar does not have enough applications to provide to, then that VDR may print blank applications for volunteer deputy registrars from the Secretary of State’s website. According to the Secretary of State, these applications should only be distributed to applicants residing in the county. Generic applications containing the Secretary of State’s return address can be distributed to anyone residing in any county; however, VDRs can only accept applications from those registering within the county in which they are appointed.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide [link]

Does the state require any training in order to conduct voter registration drives?

Yes, a volunteer deputy registrar may not receive another person's registration application until the deputy registrar has completed the state-developed training.

Counties may adopt a method for appointment for volunteer deputy registrations prescribed by the Secretary of State or developed by the county and approved by the Secretary of State that provides for training and examination of potential volunteer deputy registrars. The Secretary of State is required to provide training materials on the secretary’s website as well as to prescribe and make available on the website an examination based on those materials. A county that adopts the method under the new law must administer the required examination to a potential volunteer deputy registrar during the voter registrar’s regular business hours and is not required to hold in-person training sessions.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas Elec. Code § 13.031(e) [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.048 [link]

Does the state have restrictions on who may help others register to vote?

Yes; each person who accepts, delivers, or handles completed registration applications to be appointed by the County Registrar as a “volunteer deputy registrar” (VDR), unless that person is an “agent” of the voter who is a spouse, parent, or child of the voter and is either a qualified voter of the county or has submitted a registration application and is otherwise eligible to vote. To become a volunteer dupty registrar, Texas law requires that a person be deputized in the county of an applicant’s residence in order to accept an application from a someone who lives in that county.

To be a volunteer deputy registrar, a person must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a Texas resident
  • Never have been convicted of failing to deliver a voter application to a voter registrar in the manner and within the time required;
  • Never have been convicted of violating the performance-based compensation law in Election Code § 13.008
  • Not have been finally convicted of identity theft under Section 32.51 of the Penal Code;
  • Not have been finally convicted of a felony or, if so convicted, must have either (1) fully discharged the person's sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court; or (2) been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disability to vote; and
  • Be otherwise qualified to vote in Texas, except that the person does not have to be registered.

A person desiring to serve as a volunteer deputy registrar must request appointment by the registrar in person or by mail. A registrar may not refuse to appoint as a volunteer deputy registrar a person eligible for appointment under Section 13.031(d); or any person on the basis of sex, race, creed, color, or national origin or ancestry. Volunteer deputy registrars serve for terms expiring December 31 of even-numbered years.

The registrar must reject all registration applications received by a person purporting to act as a volunteer deputy registrar after the person's appointment is terminated. Volunteer deputy registrars’ appointments will be terminated and may not be reappointed if they are convicted for failure to deliver an application as required by law, or for violating the compensation provision. A volunteer deputy’s appointment may be terminated on a “determination by the registrar that the volunteer deputy failed to adequately review a registration application.” A volunteer deputy’s appointment may also be terminated on “a determination by the registrar that the volunteer deputy” (1) “intentionally destroyed or physically altered a registration application” or (2) “engaged in any other activity that conflicts with the responsibilities of a volunteer deputy registrar under [Chapter 13 of the Texas election code].”

A person commits a Class C misdemeanor if the person purports to act as a volunteer deputy registrar when the person does not have an effective appointment as a volunteer deputy registrar. Further, regarding agents, a person commits a Class B misdemeanor if the person acts as an agent for an applicant but is not eligible for appointment as an agent. Further, a person commits a felony of the third degree if the person purports to act as an agent in applying for registration or in signing a registration application at a time when the person is not an agent of the applicant and is not eligible for appointment as an agent of the person for whom the person purports to act.

In summary, as Texas applies the law, the following actions potentially carry criminal penalties: • Collecting or delivering an application if the person collecting or delivering it is not a trained volunteer deputy registrar; • Collecting an application if the person is not a Texas resident and eligible to vote in Texas (such individuals cannot be VDRs); • Collecting an application from a person who lives in a county where the person collecting it is not appointed as a volunteer deputy registrar.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Letter from Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections, Texas Sec’y of State, to Niyati Shah, Project Vote, May 13, 2011 [link]

Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 11.002(a)(5) [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.003(b) [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.005 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.006 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.031 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.032 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.033 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.036 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.044 [link]

Does the state have restrictions on paying drive workers, or additional rules related to payment?

Yes, a person commits an offense if the person (1) compensates another person based on the number of voter registrations that the other person successfully facilitates, (2) presents another person with a quota of voter registrations to facilitate as a condition of payment or employment; (3) engages in another practice that causes another person's compensation from or employment status with the person to be dependent on the number of voter registrations that the other person facilitates; or (4) if the person accepts compensation for any of these activities.

A federal appeals court ruled that (2) and (3) mean “conditioning payment or employment solely on the submission of a fixed number of applications,” specifically, (2) applies only when a quota is presented to a canvasser, while (3) “applies when that fixed quota is used as the sole basis for determining compensation or employment, regardless whether it has been ‘presented’ to the canvasser.” According to the court, (2) “is premised on ‘presenting’ a quota to the employee, a formulation that implies direct contact in advance to warn the person of a ‘quid pro quota,’” and (3) involves “decisions that are ‘solely dependent’ on” the “employee’s number of voter registrations.” The court held that Section 3 “prevents organizations from making compensation and employment decisions solely based on a fixed number of applications.”

These offenses are punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail up to one year, or both. An officer, director, or other agent of an entity that commits this offense is punishable for it.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Voting for America v. Steen, 732 F.3d 382, 396-399 (5th Cir. 2013) [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.008 [link]

Texas Penal Code § 12.21 [link]

Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in exchange for completing a voter registration application?

Federal law states that whoever "pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years." At least one federal appellate court has interpreted "payment" as "intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on "an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item." That case held that food vouchers could be "payment."

Another example is California's Secretary of State's interpretation of the federal law to mean that "Any type of incentive is considered 'payment,' even things as seemingly innocent as cookies or admission to an entertainment event."

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

California Secretary of State's Guide to Voter Registration Drives, p. 11 [link]

United States v. Garcia, 719 F.2d 99, 102-103 (5th Cir. 1983) [link]

52 U.S.C. § 10307(c) [link]

Must the registration drive worker sign the completed voter registration application, and must the drive or canvasser place other information on applications?

Individuals who act as “agents,” who must be a spouse, parent, or child of the registrant, must sign an application. Among other things, agents may complete and sign a registration application or submit an application for an applicant if they qualify and are appointed by the applicant.

In addition, volunteer deputy registrars must provide applicants with a signed receipt. Volunteer deputy registrars are also required to review a voter registration application for completeness in the presence of the applicant, and if it does not contain all of the information that is required, the volunteer deputy registrar must return it to the applicant for completion and resubmission. Registrars are authorized to terminate the appointment of the volunteer deputy registrar “on a determination by the registrar that the volunteer deputy failed to adequately review a registration application as required.”

Texas’s volunteer deputy registrar guide and training materials state that VDRs cannot make the applicant provide the person’s telephone number or gender, which are indicated as optional on the voter registration form.

A volunteer deputy must present his certificate of appointment as a deputy as identification to an applicant for registration, on request, when receiving the application for delivery to the registrar. The certificate of appointment includes the full name and residence address of the deputy, the county where the person was deputized, as well as the person’s voter registration number, if any.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.003 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.033 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.036 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.039 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.040 [link]

Does the state have a rule requiring a receipt or other tracking information to be provided to the applicant?

On receipt of a completed registration application, a volunteer deputy registrar must prepare a receipt in duplicate on a form furnished by the registrar. The receipt must contain the name of the applicant (and, if applicable, the name of the applicant's agent), and the date the completed application is submitted to the volunteer deputy. The volunteer deputy must sign the receipt in the applicant's presence and give the original to the applicant. The volunteer deputy must deliver the duplicate receipt to the registrar with the registration application. The registrar retains the receipt on file with the application. The Secretary of State indicates their position that VDRs may keep a copy or a stub of the receipt for recordkeeping purposes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.040 [link]

Are there restrictions on copying completed voter registration applications prior to submitting them to the election official, or other restrictions on data entry or disclosure?

Yes. The Secretary of State states that volunteer deputy registrars may not copy voter registration applications. Volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs) are instructed not to keep copies of the completed voter registration applications because the documents contain information that is confidential by law.

Texas’s guide for volunteer deputy registrars states that VDRs may copy the receipts and “may also copy the relevant information from the application in writing just as you would be able to do if you went to the registrar’s office and pulled a copy of the original application.”

Texas law states that the following information is not considered public and that registrars must ensure it is excluded from disclosure: social security numbers, Texas driver’s license numbers, a number of a personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety, an indication that the applicant is interested in working as an election judge, the address of an applicant who is a federal or state judge, or the spouse of a federal or state judge, where the applicant submitted the required affidavit or form. In addition, a voter registrar or other county official who has access to the information furnished on a registration application may not post on a website: either social security numbers, Texas driver’s license numbers, a number of a personal identification card, the address or an applicant who is a federal or state judge, or the spouse of a federal or state judge, where the applicant submitted the required affidavit or form, the telephone number or date of birth.

The National Voter Registration Act requires election officials to maintain for two years and make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters. In Project Vote v. Long, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that under this requirement, the Virginia election official had to make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, completed voter registration applications with the social security numbers redacted. Organizations should seek copies of the applications they submitted by requesting them from the election official.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

52 U.S.C. 20507(i) (federal law) [link]

Texas VDR Training [link]

Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.004 [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.042(b) [link]

Project Vote v. Long, 682 F.3d 331 (4th Cir. 2012) [link]

Is there a time limit for voter registration groups to submit the voter registration applications they collect?

Yes. Volunteer deputy registrars must deliver completed applications and receipts to the registrar in person, or by personal delivery through another designated volunteer deputy in the county, no later than 5 p.m. of the fifth day after the date the application is collected. Applications collected after the 34th day and before the 29th day before the date of an election must be delivered by 5 p.m. on the 29th day before Election Day. Volunteer deputy registrars are prohibited from submitting applications through the mail.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas VDR Training [link]

Texas Elec. Code § 13.042 [link]

What are the consequences for failing to submit applications on time?

Failure to deliver applications on time as prescribed, including the personal delivery requirement (see question J, below), is a Class C misdemeanor. An intentional failure is a Class A misdemeanor.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Texas Elec. Code § 13.043 [link]

Voters Who Have Moved or Changed Their Name

Can people vote if they moved, but did not update their voter registration with their new address?

If a voter moves within the same county but does not update their address before the voter registration deadline, the voter may cast a regular ballot in their former precinct, unless (if applicable) the voter (1) does not live in the political subdivision that ordered the election, if the political subdivision is not the county; or (2) the voter does not live in the territoriy covered by the election in a less-than-countywide election ordered by the governor or a county authority. If the voter moves to another county but remains in the same precinct and does not update their address by the voter registration deadline, the voter may cast a regular ballot.

However, if a voter moves to another county and precinct, the voter must re-register to vote using their new address before the voter registration deadline. If the voter does not do so, the voter may still cast a "limited ballot" during the early voting period in person at the main early voting polling place or, if the voter is eligible to cast an absentee ballot, by mail. The limited ballot will allow voters to vote (1) on statewide races and questions, and (2) on races and questions that appear on regular ballots in both the voter's previous county and the voter's current county.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 11.004 (intra-county moves) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 112.002 (limited ballot) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 112.003 (new county, same precinct) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 112.004 (limited ballot) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 112.006 (limited ballot) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 15.025 (voter registration deadline for updates) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.0011 (intra-county moves) [link]

Can people vote if they have changed their name, but did not update their voter registration with their new name?

If a voter has changed their name and did not update their voter registration record with their new name, then they can vote using their old name if they have an acceptable form of ID that shows their old name (see Voter ID section below for more information on voter ID). If the voter has updated their name on the ID but not on their voter registration record (or vice versa), then they will still be able to cast a regular ballot, but they will have to initial a "similar name affidavit box" on the sign-in form that swears they are the same person.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Interview with Texas Secretary of State's office [link]

Language, Literacy, and Disability Access

Language and Literacy Access

Does the state have any places that must provide election materials in languages other than English, per Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

Yes. The entire state of Texas must provide election materials in Spanish. Additionally, the following counties must provide materials in additional languages:

  • El Paso County - Pueblo
  • Harris County - Chinese, Vietnamese
  • Maverick County - Kickapoo
Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203, 76 Fed. Reg. 63602 (Oct. 13, 2011) [link]

Does the state have any other rules about providing election materials in languages other than English?

Each election precinct's presiding judge must make reasonable efforts to appoint enough election clerks who speak both English and Spanish to serve the precinct's Spanish-speaking voters. If not enough bilingual election clerks are appointed, then the authority appointing election judges must appoint at least one bilingual election clerk to serve at a central location in the county, and on primary election day, the county chairs of each political party holding a primary must appoint a bilingual election clerk to serve at a central location in the county.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-05)

Tex. Elec. Code § 272.009 [link]

Who can help a voter with reading assistance or translation if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, a voter who cannot read the language that a ballot is written in may request assistance from any of the following people:

  • If the voter is casting an absentee ballot by mail, the voter may be assisted by any person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union;
  • If the voter is casting a ballot in person at an early voting location, the voter may receive assistance either from one election officer or from any other person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union
  • If the voter is casting a ballot at the polls on Election Day, the voter may receive assistance either from two election officers or from any other person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union. If the voter requests assistance from two election officers during a general election, the two election officers must be members of different political parties unless that polling location does not have two election officers who are members of different political parties.

The election officers or person of the voter's choosing may assist the voter in the following ways: (1) reading the ballot to the voter; (2) directing the voter to read the ballot; (3) marking the voter's ballot for them; and (4) directing the voter to mark the ballot. If the voter receives assistance from any person other than an election officer during early voting or on Election Day, then an election officer must write the assistant's name and address on the poll list next to the voter's name. If the voter receives assistance from a person of their choosing when casting an absentee ballot by mail, that person must write their name, address, and signature on the absentee ballot carrier envelope.

Additionally under state law, if an election officer who attempts to communicate with a voter does not understand the language used by the voter, the voter may communicate through an interpreter of the voter's choice. However, the interpreter must be registered to vote in the same county as the voter. The interpreter may also accompany the voter into the voting station and translate the ballot for the voter.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-09)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.032 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.033 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.034 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.035 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.031(2) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.032 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.0321 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.035 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.010 [link]

Disability Access

Who can help a voter with a disability if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, if a voter has physical disability that prevents the voter from being able to write or see, then the voter may request assistance from any of the following people:

  • If the voter is casting an absentee ballot by mail, the voter may be assisted by any person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union;
  • If the voter is casting a ballot in person at an early voting location, the voter may receive assistance either from one election officer or from any other person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union
  • If the voter is casting a ballot at the polls on Election Day, the voter may receive assistance either from two election officers or from any other person of the voter's choosing who is not the voter's employer, an agent of the voter's employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union. If the voter requests assistance from two election officers during a general election, the two election officers must be members of different political parties unless that polling location does not have two election officers who are members of different political parties.

The election officers or person of the voter's choosing may assist the voter in the following ways: (1) reading the ballot to the voter; (2) directing the voter to read the ballot; (3) marking the voter's ballot for them; and (4) directing the voter to mark the ballot. If the voter receives assistance from any person other than an election officer during early voting or on Election Day, then an election officer must write that person's name and address on the poll list next to the voter's name. If the voter receives assistance from a person of their choosing when casting an absentee ballot by mail, that person must write their name, address, and signature on the absentee ballot carrier envelope.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-09)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.031(2) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.032 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.0321 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.035 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.010 [link]

Does the state have other rules related to access for persons with disabilities?

Yes. A person with a disability is exempt from Texas's requirement that voters present ID when voting if the person submits the following documentation with their voter registration application:

  • Documentation from the U.S. Social Security Administration showing that the applicant has been determined to have a disability; or
  • Documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs showing that the applicant has a disability rating of at least 50 percent.

Additionally, if a person cannot sign any document that Texas election law requires the person sign due to a disability or illiteracy, the person can instead put their mark on the document and have a witness sign the document. The witness must also write their own name and their address (unless the witness is an election officer, in which case the election officer must write their name and title). The witness must also write on the document the voter's name. However, a person who cannot write English because of a disability or illiteracy is exempt from the requirement to sign the voter registration certificate.

A voter with a disability or illness is also eligible to vote early by mail (i.e., vote an absentee ballot) if the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on Election Day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health.

Finally, a person who is adjudicated by a court to be fully mentally incapacitated, or partially mentally incapacitated for voting purposes, cannot vote until that determination is reversed.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-09)

Tex. Elec. Code § 1.011 (general signature exemption) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 1.020 (mental incapacity) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.002(i) (voter ID exemption) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 15.003 (voter certificate signature exemption) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.002 (early voting by mail) [link]

Early Voting, Absentee Voting, and Other Ways to Vote

Early Voting/Absentee In-Person Voting

Does the state have early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 81.001 [link]

Where does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

Early voting occurs in multiple locations. Each county has a "main early voting polling place," the location of which depends on the type of election. In general elections for state and county officers and other countywide elections, primary elections, and special elections ordered by the governor, the main early voting polling place is located in the office building of the county clerk's office or in another building close to the county clerk's office. In city elections, the main early voting polling place is located in the building of the city secretary's office or in another building close to the city secretary's office. In less-than-countywide elections not held at county expense, such as school board elections, the authority who appoints the early voting clerk for that election determines the location of the main early voting polling place, which might be in the county clerk's or city secretary's office building or at another location chosen by the authority.

Additionally, in countywide elections, early voting occurs in various "branch early voting polling places," which may be permanent branches or temporary branches. Permanent branches are located at each satellite office that conducts clerical work for the county clerk. For temporary branches, their locations are established by the commissioners court (for elections where the county clerk is the early voting clerk) or the governing body of the political subdivision (for elections where the county clerk is not the early voting clerk). Temporary locations can be established in any building. In primary elections, general elections for state and county offices, and special elections to fill state legislative or federal congressional offices, the following rules apply:

  • In counties with populations of less than 100,000 people, the commissioners court may decide whether to to establish any temporary branches or none.
  • In counties with populations of between 100,000 and 120,000 people, the commissioners court must establish at least one temporary branch in any precinct where at least 15 voters request a temprorary branch in writing (if the requests are made before the branch schedule is released) and may choose to establish any other temporary branches or no others.
  • In counties with populations between 120,000 and 400,000 people, the commissioners court must establish at least one temporary branch in each precinct.
  • In counties with populations of 400,000 or more people, the commissioners court must establish at least one temprorary branch in each state representative district, except that in a special election for state senator or federal congressional office, the temprorary branch must instead be established in the state senatorial or federal congressional district.

In a countywide election, the total number of permanent branch polling places and temporary branch polling places open for voting at the same time in one precinct may not exceed twice the number of permanent branch and temporary branch polling places open at that time in another precinct. In an election in which the commissioners court is required to establish at least one temporary branch, the commissioners court may decide not to establish permanent branches.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 81.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.061 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.062 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.067 [link]

When does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

For most elections, early voting starts 17 days before the election and ends 4 days before the election. If the 17th day before an election is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, early voting starts on the next business day. However, for a special runoff election for the office of state senator or state representative, and for primary runoff elections, the early voting period begins 10 days before the election and ends 4 days before the election. For an election held on the uniform election date in May and any resulting runoff election, the early voting period begins 12 days before the election and ends four days before the election.

During the early voting period, the hours that an early voting location is open varies depending on the type of location and the election. The main early voting polling place, and permanent branches, are open at the following times during the week:

  • For general elections for state and county officers and other countywide officers, primary elections, special elections ordered by the governor, and city elections, the main early voting polling place and permanent branches are typically open on weekdays during the regular business hours of the county clerk or city secretary. However, if the county contains a population of 100,000 or more people, then the main early voting polling place and permanent branches must be open for at least 12 hours a day each weekday of the last week of early voting, or the last 2 days of early voting for a special election, if the county clerk receives a written request for these extended hours by at least 15 registered voters of the county before the branch voting schedule is published.
  • For other elections, the main early voting polling place and permanent branches must be open each weekday of the early voting period that is not a legal state holiday for at least 8 hours, unless the territory covered by the election has fewer than 1,000 registered voters. In that case, the main early voting polling place and permanent branches must be open at least 3 hours each weekday. The authority ordering the election, or the county clerk if that person is the early voting clerk, determines which hours that early voting will be conducted.

On weekends, the main early voting polling place and permanent branches may be open during any hours that the county clerk, city secretary, or election authority wishes, if any. However, if they receive at least 15 written requests from registered voters in the county to conduct early voting during a Saturday or Sunday, then they must open the main early voting polling place and permanent branches on at least one Saturday or Sunday during the early voting period. Additionally, in a primary election or a general election for state and county officers in a county with a population of 100,000 or more, the early voting clerk must open the main early voting polling place and permanent branches for at least 12 hours on the last Saturday and for at least 5 hours on the last Sunday of the early voting period. The early voting clerk must also do this in counties with a population under 100,000 after receiveing at least 15 written requests from registered voters in the county.

Temporary branches must be open during the following times:

  • In counties with populations of at least 100,000 people, the temporary branches that the comissioners court are required to establish must be open on the same days that the main early voting polling place is open. The county clerk, city clerk, or election authority determines which hours the temporary branch is open, except that if they receive at least 15 written requests from voters registered in the county, the temporary branches must be open during the same hours as the main early voting poling place. For temporary branches that the commissioners court is not required to establish, the county clerk, city secretary or election authority determines any one or more days to open the temporary branch and the hours to open it.
  • In counties with populations less than 100,000 people, the county clerk, city secretary or election authority determines the hours and days that the temporary branches are open. They may choose to open different temporary locations at different times.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.006 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.063 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.064 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 85.065 [link]

Are lists of early voters/absentee in-person voters published? How?

Yes, county election officials keep lists of voters who have cast an early ballot, including those voters who cast a ballot in person during the early voting period. These lists are open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 87.121 [link]

Absentee Voting by Mail

Can anyone vote absentee by mail without an excuse? If not, what excuses allow a voter to vote absentee by mail?

No. Voters may vote an absentee ballot by mail only for one of the following reasons:

  • The voter expects to be out of the county both on election day and during the regular hours for conducting early voting at the main early voting polling place, at least for the part of the early voting period that remains after the voter applies to vote absentee by mail. Additionally, if a voter applies to vote absentee by mail on or after the first day of early voting, the voter must be out of the county when they submit their application.
  • The voter is sick or has a physical condition, such as a pregnancy or a physical disability, that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on Election Day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter's health.
  • The voter will be at least 65 years old on Election Day.
  • The voter is in jail or prison (and did not lose the right to vote due to a felony conviction)
  • The voter registered to vote in person and is a member of Texas's address confidentiality program.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 82.007 [link]

Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail

The application must be received by the early voting clerk by the close of business or 12:00pm (whichever is later) on the 11th day before the election, or on the next business day if the 11th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. However, if the voter personally delivers the application to the early voting clerk's office, then the voter must do so before the first day of the early voting period.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.007 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.008 [link]

How does a voter apply for an absentee mail ballot?

Voters must mail, fax, e-mail, or personally deliver a completed "Application for Ballot by Mail" (or a written request with all the same information as on the application) to the county election official. The application can be downloaded here.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Application for Ballot by Mail [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.007 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.008 [link]

Can a voter make an online request for an absentee mail ballot?

A voter can e-mail a scanned copy of their "Application for Ballot by Mail" (or equivalent written request) to the early voting clerk.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Application for Ballot by Mail [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.007 [link]

Does a voter need to submit any supporting documentation or verification with an absentee mail ballot or absentee mail ballot application? If so, what is required?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Application for Ballot by Mail [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.002 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may request or turn in an absentee mail ballot application for a voter?

No, so long as the person who submits the application for the voter writes on the application their name, signature, and address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 1.001(b) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.007(b) [link]

Deadline to return absentee ballots

The ballot must be received by the time the polls close on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.007 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may return a voter's absentee mail ballot for them?

A person may place the voter's ballot in the mail for them so long as the person writes their name, signature, and address on the reverse side of the ballot's carrier envelope. However, if the voter wishes to return the ballot in person, the voter must do so personally; the voter cannot designate another person to personally deliver the ballot on their behalf.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.0051(b) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.006(a), (f) [link]

What are absentee ballots sent by mail usually called?

Early Voting Ballot by Mail

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.001 [link]

Are there any special emergency rules that allow a voter to vote absentee by mail if they are unable to make it to the polls at the last minute?

Yes. A person who becomes sick or develops a physical condition after the absentee ballot application is due can vote a "late ballot," which can be cast by mail. To apply for a late ballot, the voter should submit a regular Application for a Ballot by Mail along with a signed and dated statement from a doctor, chiropractor, or Christian Science practicioner that (1) certifies that the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polls to vote on Election Day without a likelihood of requiring assistance or injuring the voter's health, and (2) describes the date that the voter developed the sickness or physical condition. The application and statement must be submitted to the main early voting polling place (or the location where early voting ballots are processed, if different). The application and statement must be submitted in person by a represenative of the voter. This representative must be at least 18 years old and cannot be related or employed by a candidate on the ballot or serve as a representative for any other voter in that election.

After submitting the application and statement, the early voting clerk will write on the application the representative's name and address and have the representative sign the application. The clerk will then give the representative balloting materials, and the representative must deliver these materials to the voter, allow the voter to mark and seal their ballot, and then personally return the ballot to the clerk before the polls close on Election Day.

Similarly, if a voter has a death in the family on or after the last day of the early voting period, the voter may cast a late ballot. A qualifying family member must be related to the voter within the second degree. To apply for a late ballot for this reason, the voter must submit a regular Application for a Ballot by Mail and include with it a statement indicating the date of the family member's death and how the voter and the family member are related. The application and statement must be submitted to main early voting polling place (or the location where early voting ballots are processed, if different) any time after the early voting period ends but before the close of business on the day before Election Day. The voter will then be given their late ballot and will mark it in person at the clerk's office.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.005 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 102.006 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 103.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 103.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 103.003 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 103.004 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.007 [link]

Are lists of people who vote absentee by mail published? How?

Yes, county election officials keep lists of voters who have cast an early ballot, including those voters who cast one by mail. These lists are open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

Tex. Elec. Code § 87.121 [link]

Presidential-only ballots

Under federal law, any registered voter who moves out of the state after the 30th day before a Presidential election may vote for President and Vice President either in person at the voter’s previous state of residence or using an absentee ballot from the voter’s previous state of residence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-10)

52 U.S.C. § 10502(e) [link]

Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters

Who is eligible for military/overseas absentee voting?

The following voters are eligible for military/overseas voting:

  • Members of the armed forces along with spouses and dependents
  • Members of the merchant marines, their spouses, and dependents
  • Texas voters temporarily living overseas
Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-11)

Tex. Elec. Code § 101.001 [link]

How do voters apply for a military/overseas ballot?

Military and overseas voters may submit a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to the early voting clerk by mail, fax, or as a scanned attachment to an email.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-11)

1 Tex. Admin. Code § 81.40 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 101.051 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 101.052 [link]

Deadline to apply for a military/overseas ballot

For military or overseas voters who are already registered to vote at the address they write on the application, the application must be postmarked by the early voting clerk by the close of business or 12:00pm (whichever is later) on the 11th day before the election, or on the next business day if the 11th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. However, if a military or overseas voter is not already registered to vote at the address they write on their application, then their application must be received at least 20 days before Election Day for the voter to receive a full ballot. Otherwise, they will only be able to vote for federal offices. If the 20th day before Election Day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then the postmark deadline is pushed to the next business day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-11)

Tex. Elec. Code § 101.052(e)-(f), (h)-(i) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 84.007 [link]

Deadline to return the military/overseas ballot

If the ballot is sent from an address outside of the United States, then the ballot envelope must be postmarked before the polls close on Election Day and received by the early voting clerk no later than the 5th day after Election Day. If the 5th day after Election Day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then this deadline is pushed to the next regular business day.

If the ballot is sent from an address inside the United States, then the ballot must be received before the polls close on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-11)

Tex. Elec. Code § 86.007 [link]

Who is eligible to use a write-in absentee ballot? How does it work?

Any member of the military, their spouse, and their dependents who cannot vote in person during both the early voting period and on Election Day because of military duty may use a write-in absentee ballot. To obtain one, the voter must indicate on their Federal Postcard Application that they would like a State Write-in Absentee Ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-11)

Tex. Elec. Code § 105.002 [link]

On Election Day

Where do you vote in person?

Where do you vote in person?

Typically, people vote in the polling place located in their precinct. Some counties may also participate in a program to allow people to vote in central voting locations in addition to their precinct's polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.001 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.007 [link]

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

7:00am to 7:00pm. People waiting in line to vote at 7:00pm are allowed to vote after 7:00pm.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 41.031 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 41.032 [link]

In the Voting Booth

Are there rules about what materials a voter can and cannot bring into the voting booth?

Voters cannot post, use, or distribute political signs or literature in a polling place or within 100 feet of its entrances.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.003 [link]

Can a voter bring children into the voting booth with them?

Yes, a child under 18 may accompany their parent into the voting booth.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 64.002(b) [link]

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Yes. If a voter does not have two consecutive non-working hours on Election Day during the time the polls are open, then their employer must give them paid time off to go to the polls and vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 276.004 [link]

Campaigning, Electioneering, and Recording Devices

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering during early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Voters cannot post, use, or distribute political signs or literature in an early voting polling place or within 100 feet of its entrances.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.003 [link]

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering on Election Day?

Voters cannot post, use, or distribute political signs or literature in an early voting polling place or within 100 feet of its entrances.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.003 [link]

Can a voter wear a button or t-shirt with a candidate's name or logo on it into the polling place when they vote?

No. A person may not wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election, in the polling place or within 100 feet of any entrance to it.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.010 [link]

*NEW 1** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) inside the polling place or voting booth?

Use of digital devices is not permitted in the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 10/26/2016)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.014 [link]

*NEW 2** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) outside the polling place but within the zone around the polling place where campaigning/electioneering is banned?

No. No one may use a cell phone or other recording device within 100 feet of the poling place.

Source (confirmed on: 10/17/2016)

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.014 [link]

Who's at the Polls?

Can persons other than election workers observe inside the polls?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.001 [link]

What are observers inside the polls called in the state?

Watchers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.001 [link]

Does the state establish requirements to observe inside the polls?

To serve as a watcher, a person must be appointed and meet the eligibility requirements. The following "appointing authorities" can appoint watchers:

  • A candidate who is on the ballot, or a declared write-in candidate, can appoint watchers in any election except for elections for Vice President and elections for an office of a political party.
  • In an election in which an undelcared write-in candidate can participate, a group of voters can appoint watchers on behalf of the candidate. To participate in the appointment process for an undeclared candidate, a voter must be registered in the precinct that the watcher will serve in or the appropriate territory if the watcher will serve in an early voting polling place or other location. The number of voters in the group must be at least 15 or 5% of the registered voters in the territory, whichever is less.
  • The county chair of a political party who has candidates on the ballot, or three members of the party's county executive committee if the county chair does not appoint watchers, can appoint watchers in any election.
  • In any election (except for primary elections) in which a ballot measure is on the ballot, a specific-purpose political committee that supports or opposes the ballot measure may appoint watchers.
  • A candidate's campaign treasure can appoint watchers only in elections for state government offices in which voters from multiple counties can vote on the candidate.
  • A candidate campaign committee's chair or treasurer, or their agent, can appoint watchers only in elections for federal offices in which voters from multiple counties can vote on the candidate.

Each watcher will receive a written "certificate of appointment" from their appointing authority. An appointing authority may appoint up to 2 watchers in each precinct polling place, meeting place for an early voting ballot board, or central counting station involved in the election; and they may also appoint up to 7 watchers for each main or branch polling place involved the election, so long as no more than 2 watchers appointed by the same appointing authority are present at the same time. Additionally, the total number of watchers accepted for service on each side of a ballot measure may not exceed 2 in precinct polling places and 7 in early voting polling places. If the number of appointments exceeds these numbers, election officials will accept the watchers in the order in which they present their certificates of appointment.

Additionally, to be appointed as a watcher, a person must be registered to vote in a certain area:

  • In primary elections, elections ordered by the governor, and elections ordered by a county, a watcher must be registered to vote within the county where the watcher will serve;
  • In less-than-countywide elections ordered by the governor or a county, a watcher must be registered to vote in the part of the county where the election is occuring;
  • In elections ordered by any other political subdivision, a watcher must be registered to vote within that political subdivision.

In addition, a watcher cannot be a candidate, an elected official, a person who has been convicted of an election offense, or an election officer's employee, employer, or relative of the first or second degree.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.002 (candidate and campaign appointments) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.003 (political party appointments) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.004 (groups for undeclared write-in candidates) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.005 (ballot measure appointments) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.006 (certificate of appointment) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.007 (numbers of watchers) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.031 (general eligibility requirements) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.032 (candidate ineligibility) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.033 (election officer relation ineligibility) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.034 (elected official ineligibility) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.035 (election offense ineligibility) [link]

*NEW 3* Can a poll observer use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) in the polling place?

No; a poll observer disable or deactivate any device capable of recording images or sound.

Source (confirmed on: 10/15/2016)

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.051(c) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 61.014 [link]

Are there other rules on what poll observers can or cannot do?

When first arriving at a precinct polling place or early voting polling place, the watcher must give their certificate of appointment to election officers and sign it.

A watcher can observe any activity occuring in the polling place and inspect any records in the polling place, including returns. A watcher can also take written notes.

A watcher cannot use, and must deactivate, any device that can record images or sounds. A watcher also cannot talk to voters, and a watcher cannot talk to election officers about the election other than to point out a possible error or violation of the law.

If an election officer assists a voter mark or cast their ballot, a watcher can inspect the ballot before it is put in the ballot box to ensure that the ballot is marked the way the voter wants it marked. A watcher cannot inspect the ballot of a voter who is assisted by someone other than an election officer.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.051 (certificate requirement and device prohibition) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.056 (allowed activities) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.057 (ballot inspection for assisted voter) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 33.058 (prohibited conversations) [link]

Provisional Voting and Voters at the Wrong Polling Place

When should a voter be offered a provisional ballot?

Under Section 203 of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, if a person claims to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the person desires to vote and the person claims to be eligible to vote in a federal election, but the person’s name does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote, then that person must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place. The person may cast the provisional ballot after executing, before an election official at the polling place, a written affirmation stating that the person is (1) a registered voter in the jurisdiction, and (2) eligible to vote in that election.

Additionally, any person who votes in a federal election as a result of a federal or state court order, or any other order extending the time established for closing the polls by a state law in effect 10 days before the date of that election, may only vote in that election by casting a provisional ballot. Any such ballot cast must be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast for different reasons.

Under Texas law, a voter should be offered a provisional ballot if:

  • The voter does not show the required ID when voting, or the ID shown either does not confirm the voter’s identity or does not show that the voter’s name is the same as, or substantially similar to, the voter’s name as it appears on the precinct roll; or
  • The voter has received a disability exemption from the identification requirement, but the voter does not show a voter registration certificate at the polls; or
  • The voter applied for an absentee ballot, but chose to vote in person at the polls instead and did not cancel the absentee ballot application; or
  • The voter is casting a ballot during court-ordered extended polling hours; or
  • The voter is attempting to vote in a precinct other than their assigned precinct (but this provisional ballot will not be counted); or
  • The voter's name is missing from the precinct roll, and the voter does not show a voter registration certificate at the polls; or
  • The voter is on the precinct roll, but the voter’s address is outside the political subdivision.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

52 U.S.C. § 21082 (federal law) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.001 (voter ID) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.009 (precinct roll) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.011 (generally) [link]

1 Tex. Admin. Code § 81.172 (generally) [link]

If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, will the ballot be counted?

Under Texas law, a voter who casts a provisional ballot must sign an affidavit saying that they live in the precinct where they are seeking to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.011(a)(1) [link]

Following up on a provisional ballot

If a voter does not show ID when they vote, the voter must go to the voter registrar’s office within 6 days after the election and either show an acceptable form of ID or sign an affidavit saying that the person has a religious objection to being photographed or was prevented from getting an ID due to a natural disaster.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 65.054 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 65.0541 [link]

Finding out if a provisional ballot was counted

Provisional voters will receive a notice in the mail by the 10th day after the local canvass advising them if their provisional ballots were counted, and if they were not counted, the reason why.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Texas Secretary of State's website [link]

Ballot Shortages/Voting Machine Malfunctions

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a polling place runs out of printed ballots? Are handwritten/photocopied ballots allowed?

No law specifically authorizes the use of photocopied or handwritten ballots.

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks or malfunctions?

If a voting machine malfunctions, poll workers can allow voters to vote on any paper ballots available, including early vote ballots and the paper ballot slips normally used in a voting machine.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-12)

Tex. Elec. Code § 125.006 [link]

Voter ID and Challenges

Voter ID

Who must show ID to vote?

All voters must show ID to vote, except those who sign an affidavit saying they have a religious objection to being photographed, those who sign an affidavit saying that a natural disaster within the past 45 days prevented them from obtaining an ID, or those who have been granted an exemption due to a disability and shows poll workers a voter registration certificate that indicates this exemption. If a voter signs an affidavit for a religious objection or natural disaster exemption, the voter must vote a provisional ballot. If the voter has a disability exemption, the voter can vote a regular ballot unless the voter does not show a voter registration certificate that indicates the exemption, in which case the voter must cast a provisional ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.001 (generally and disability exemption) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 65.054(b)(2) (religious objections and natural disasters) [link]

Are there any special requirements for first-time voters?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Tex. Elec. Code § 13.002 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.001(b) [link]

What ID is acceptable?

A voter must show either one form of photo ID or show one form of non-photo ID and sign a ""reasonable impediment"" statement.

Acceptable forms of photo ID include:

  • A driver's license, election identification certificate, or personal identification card issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 4 years ago;
  • A United States military identification card that contains the person's photograph and has not expired or that expired no earlier than 4 years ago;
  • A United States citizenship certificate issued to the person that contains the person's photograph;
  • A United States passport issued to the person that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 4 years ago; or
  • A license to carry a concealed handgun issued to the person by the Department of Public Safety that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 4 years ago.

Acceptable forms of non-photo ID include:

  • A valid voter registration certificate
  • A certified birth certificate,
  • A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or any other government document that displays the voter’s name and address
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Order Regarding Agreed Interim Plan for Elections, Veasey v. Abbott, No. 2:13-cv-00193 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 10, 2016) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.0101 [link]

Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?

A student ID is acceptable only if it was issued by a public (not private) school or university and shows the voter's name and address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Order Regarding Agreed Interim Plan for Elections, Veasey v. Abbott, No. 2:13-cv-00193 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 10, 2016) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.0101 [link]

Does the address on the ID have to match the address at which the voter is registered?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Order Regarding Agreed Interim Plan for Elections, Veasey v. Abbott, No. 2:13-cv-00193 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 10, 2016) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 63.0101 [link]

If a voter has no ID, are there alternatives such as an oath or witness?

The voter may cast a provisional ballot. The voter must then appear at voter registrar’s office within 6 days after the election and either show an acceptable form of ID or sign an affidavit saying that the person has a religious objection to being photographed or was prevented from getting an ID due to a natural disaster that occured no more than 45 days before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-25)

Tex. Elec. Code § 65.054 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 65.0541 [link]

Challenges to Voters at the Polling Place

Who can challenge a voter at the polling place?

No one; Texas does not allow people to challenge voters at polling places.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-18)

Interview with Texas Secretary of State's office [link]

State and Local Election Officials

The State Election Authority

Who/what is the state election authority?

Secretary of State

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 31.001 [link]

Current official

Carlos H. Cascos

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Secretary of State's website [link]

E-mail

elections@sos.state.tx.us

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Secretary of State's website [link]

Phone

1-800-252-VOTE (8683) or 512-463-5650

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Secretary of State's website [link]

Address

Mailing Address: Elections Division Secretary of State
P.O. Box 12060 Austin, Texas 78711-2060

Physical Address: James E. Rudder Bldg. 1019 Brazos St. Austin, Texas 78701

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Secretary of State's website [link]

Local Election Authorities

What local election official(s) are in charge of major state-level elections (such as the even-year November general elections)?

Different counties have different officials responsible for overseeing elections. Generally, the county tax assessor-collector is the voter registrar and thus administers voter registration, and the county clerk is the early voting clerk and thus administers early voting and also oversees most other aspects of the election. However, if the county's commissioners court, tax assessor-collector, and county clerk agree, the county clerk may instead serve as the voter registrar, or alternatively, the county clerk's powers can be transferred to the tax assessor-collector.

In other counties, an elections administrator serves as the voter registrar and is responsible for most of the county clerk's duties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 12.001 (tax assessor-collector as voter registrar) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 12.031 (county clerk as voter registrar) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 31.043 (elections administrator) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 31.071 (transfer of county clerk duties to tax assessor-collector) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.002 (county clerk as early voting clerk) [link]

What is the county-level election official?

Different counties have different officials responsible for overseeing elections. Generally, the county tax assessor-collector is the voter registrar and thus administers voter registration, and the county clerk is the early voting clerk and thus administers early voting and also oversees most other aspects of the election. However, if the county's commissioners court, tax assessor-collector, and county clerk agree, the county clerk may instead serve as the voter registrar, or alternatively, the county clerk's powers can be transferred to the tax assessor-collector.

In other counties, an elections administrator serves as the voter registrar and is responsible for most of the county clerk's duties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 12.001 (tax assessor-collector as voter registrar) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 12.031 (county clerk as voter registrar) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 31.043 (elections administrator) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 31.071 (transfer of county clerk duties to tax assessor-collector) [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.002 (county clerk as early voting clerk) [link]

What is the municipal-level election official?

City Secretary

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 143.006 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 83.005 [link]

Contact information for local election authorities

Texas' Directory of Elections Officials and Officeholders

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Texas' Directory of Elections Officials and Officeholders [link]

The Voter File

Voter File Basics

National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Disclosure Law

Section 8 of the federal NVRA requires that each State maintain for at least 2 years and make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters, except to the extent that such records contain information about a person declining to register to vote or information about the identity of a voter registration agency through which a particular voter might have chosen to register.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

52 U.S.C. § 20507 [link]

Acquiring a Voter File

Under state procedure, who may acquire a voter file?

Any member of the public. To acquire a voter file, a person should submit a completed Voter Registration Public Information Request Form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 1.012 [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]

Who is the state-level contact for acquiring a voter file?

Secretary of State

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]

How much does the state charge for the file?

Texas law requires that the Secretary of State not charge more than the actual cost of providing the voter file. However, for the entire file, the cost is $328.13 plus $0.0000625 for each voter listed in the file and, if delivery is requested on a CD or DVD, an additional $11 to cover the cost of the CD or DVD.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Voter Registration Public Information Request Form [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]

What format is the file available in?

The file must be delivered in the format it is maintained or, if praticable, in a requested format. The file can be delivered over FTP or mailed on a CD or DVD.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Voter Registration Public Information Request Form [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]

Use of the Voter File

Does the state have restrictions on commercial use of the voter file?

Yes, the voter cannot use information from the vote file to advertise or promote commercial products.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Voter Registration Public Information Request Form [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]

Does the state have restrictions on non-commercial use of the voter file?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-02-15)

Voter Registration Public Information Request Form [link]

Tex. Elec. Code § 18.066 [link]