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Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2009-08

TO: All Election Officials
FROM: Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections
DATE: July 9 , 2009
RE: 2009 Legislative Summary

House Bill 328 - Removes all references to the office of inspector of hides and animals which has already been abolished under the constitution.

Effective Date: May 19, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 52.092(e); 172.024
Local Government Code-§§ 87.012, 87.041(a)
Agriculture Code-§§ 148.044, 148.067-148.068

House Bill 401 - Authorizes a new window for local political subdivisions to change their general election date to the November uniform election date no later than December 31, 2010.

Effective Date: May 13, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 41.0052(a), 41.0052(a-1)

House Bill 488 - Makes a person ineligible to serve as a volunteer deputy registrar if they have a final felony conviction unless they have been discharged from their punishment phase or have been pardoned or otherwise released from their resulting disabilities.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009 (any current VDR not eligible on this date will have their appointment terminated.)
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 13.031(d)), 13.032

House Bill 536 - Requires FPCAs to be treated as an application for permanent voter registration.  The FPCA will continue to be valid for mail ballot request purposes for a period of two federal elections pursuant to the “UOCAVA”.  SOS is required to adopt administrative rules to implement registration.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 13.002(h), 101.006(a)

House Bill 551 - Authorizes the electronic transmission of an FPCA (intended to include emailing a scanned FPCA).  SOS would be allowed to prescribe procedures.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 101.004

House Bill 559 - Includes justices of the peace in the category of judges able to keep their personal information from public disclosure in voter registration records.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 13.0021(a)(2)
Government Code-§ 411.171 (4-b)
Tax Code-§§ 25.025(a), 25.025(a-1)(2)

House Bill 567 - Provides that a candidate in an election for a contested public or party office is ineligible to serve in an election to be held on the same day as that election, as an election judge or clerk in any precinct in which the office sought is to be voted on.  However, this prohibition would not apply to a county clerk or a precinct chair declared elected. 

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 32.053

House Bill 719 - Provides that “vote here” type signs used during primary elections must include neither political party name or symbol or all political party names and symbols holding an election at the polling place.  In addition, HB 719 requires the Secretary of State to implement a countywide polling place program to allow five counties to eliminate precinct polling places and to establish countywide polling places for the November General election, each “countywide” election held on the May uniform election date, each constitutional amendment election and any local election held jointly with any of the aforementioned elections. 

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 43.007; 172.127

House Bill 1145 - Provides two separate schedules for appointing election judges and alternates based on a county’s population: (counties with a population of over 500,000 must appoint in July in the usual manner and counties with a population of 500,000 or less must appoint in August).

Effective Date: January 1, 2010
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 32.002

House Bill 1193 - Amends Section 192.031, Election Code, to require that the state party chair must deliver the written certification of the names of the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees to the Secretary of State by the later of 5 pm of the 70th day before election day or 5 pm of the first business day after the adjournment of the party’s national presidential nominating convention.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 192.031

House Bill 1256 - Requires the presiding judge to post one or more copies of a new notice called “Voter Complaint Information” in the polling place. The notice must inform voters who to call or write to if they have complaints about the conduct of the election. The notice must be created by SOS and the title must be printed in 100-point, Times New Roman font.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 62.0112

House Bill 1265 - Requires state and county political party chairs to include the date a candidate’s application was filed on their respective candidate lists that are filed with the Secretary of State so that the Texas Ethics Commission will have access to the information to determine when campaign filings must be filed by candidates.

Effective Date: June 19, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 172.029, 181.032

House Bill 1448 - Changes the format of the voter registration application so that a voter who provides the last four digits of their social security number is also confirming that they have not been issued a TDL or ID number by DPS, and it eliminates the separate box to affirm that they had not been issued a TDL or ID by DPS.

Effective Date: June 19, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 13.002

House Bill 1493 - Adds an exception to the requirement that no wireless communications are allowed in the polling place by allowing persons employed at the location to use electronic devices. Therefore, if a person employed in the building wants to use their cell phone they do not risk violating the electronic devices prohibition passed in 2007.

Effective Date: May 27, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 61.013(d)

House Bill 1945 - Eliminates the City of Corpus Christi’s special authority to have their general election of officers in April of odd-numbered years.  The City, along with any independent school districts located wholly or partly in the city, will have until December 31, 2009 to change their general election dates and to alter any terms as necessary to accommodate the new date. 

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 41.0051

House Bill 2101 - Authorizes the county executive committee to apply to the state executive committee of that political party to issue an order permitting the county convention to be held at a location outside the county, if the committee has determined that no suitable location for the county convention is available in the county.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 174.062(a), (c)

House Bill 2181 - Repeals Section 1.016 of Election Code (the “Code”), which provided that age was calculated from the day before the anniversary of the person’s birthday. The definition caused confusion as to when a person actually reached the age of 18 for determining a person’s eligibility for voting.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 1.016

House Bill 2401 - Applies Section 31.035, which prohibits a county election administrator from being a candidate or holding public or private office and provides restrictions on political activities of an election administrator, to all full time employees of a county election administrator’s office, regardless of county population. However, full time employees of election administrator in counties with populations of one million or less are not restricted from making campaign contributions or publicly supporting a candidate or measure.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 31.035

House Bill 2524 - Codifies the security and testing procedures for electronic voting that have been prescribed in Directives by the Secretary of State. Includes a requirement for Acceptance Testing, Hardware Diagnostic Testing, Public Logic and Accuracy Testing, Security of Election Materials, Transporting Voting System Equipment and chain of custody provisions.  In addition, the bill contains technical security provisions regarding network connections and wireless technology, limitations regarding software that can be loaded onto elections management equipment, requires each custodian of election records to create a contingency plan for addressing electronic voting machine failures and includes the restriction that DRE voting machines deployed for early voting may not be deployed on election day.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 66.058, Chapter 129 (Subchapter B)

House Bill 2847 - Removes the exceptions for political subdivisions in Harris County and in counties adjacent to Harris County from the general requirement to use county election precincts on the November uniform election date. However, it continues to exempt certain water districts and other districts created pursuant to Article III, Section 52 and Article XVI, Section 59 of the Texas Constitution from the requirement.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 42.002, 42.0621

House Bill 3061 - Authorizes the use of Chapter 19 funds for the employment of temporary workers for up to 39 weeks within a given fiscal year.  Currently, Chapter 19 rules limit the employment of temporary workers for up to 26 weeks within a given fiscal year.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 19.004(a)

House Bill 3062 - Requires that the governing body of a political subdivision other than a county provide notice of election to the voter registrar not later than 60 days prior to the election.  Current law already requires such a notice be sent to the county clerk or elections administrator.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 4.008

House Bill 3069 - Provides that the Address Confirmation Notice and the Statement of Residence form contain the same information that is required for a person to register to vote.  Additionally, should the voter complete a Confirmation Notice or Statement of Residence Form that contains an address that is no longer in the county, the current voter registrar must forward the form to the new voter registrar of the county in which the new residence address is located.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 15.052, 15.053, 63.0011

Senate Bill 281 - The spouses of federal judges and state judges are afforded the same protection of personal information from public disclosure as the judge, assuming they file the appropriate affidavit.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 13.004, 13.0021, 15.0215, 15.081, 18.005, 18.066
Tax Code-§ 25.025

Senate Bill 927 - Gives the State Attorney General concurrent jurisdiction with the local county or district attorney to investigate or prosecute the offense under Section 33.05 of Penal Code related to the tampering with a direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machine.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Penal Code-§§ 33.05

Senate Bill 1970 (SOS Omnibus Clean-Up Bill)-Section-by-Section Analysis:

SECTION 1 amends Section 2.051(a), Election Code, to provide that a special election of a local political subdivision is considered a separate election from the general election for officers of the political subdivision or another special election of the political subdivision being held at the same time for the purpose of determining whether the entity may cancel all or a portion of its election. Under current law, a special election, such as a bond election, precludes cancellation of an unopposed candidate election being held at the same time.

SECTION 2 amends Section 2.053, Election Code, to require the ballot to list the offices and names of candidates declared elected on the ballot separately following the opposed races under a heading “Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected” if the entire election was not cancelled. No votes are cast for the unopposed candidates and they should appear in the same relative order as they would have as opposed candidates on the ballot. The Secretary of State is given authority to adopt rules as necessary to implement this section for different voting systems and ballot styles.

SECTION 3 amends Section 2.054, Election Code, to expand the offense against intimidating a potential candidate from filing to include an offense against intimidating a potential candidate from withdrawing. Prior law had only established a penalty against intimidating candidates from filing for a place on the ballot.

SECTION 4 adds Sections 2.081 and 2.082 to the Election Code. Under Section 2.081 (Cancellation of Moot Measure), if the authority that orders a measure election determines that the action authorized by the election may not be implemented regardless of the outcome of the election, the governing body may declare the measure moot and remove the measure from the ballot. A notice of the governing body’s declaration must be placed at each polling place that would have been used in the election.  Section 2.082 (Specific Authority for Cancellation Required) provides that an entity must have specific statutory authority to cancel an election.

SECTION 5 amends Section 4.004(a), Election Code, to require the location of each early voting polling place in an election to be included in the notice of election. Previous law only required notice of the main early voting polling places and election day polling places.

SECTION 6 amends Section 16.031(a), Election Code, to require a voter registrar to cancel a voter’s registration upon receipt of a notice from the early voting clerk that a federal postcard application (FPCA) was submitted by the voter stating a residence address that falls outside the voter registrar’s county.

SECTION 7 amends Section 67.010, Election Code, by adding subsection (d) to authorize the Secretary of State to make clerical corrections to the state canvass based on amended county-level canvasses.

SECTION 8 amends Section 85.001(e), Election Code, to provide that the shorter early voting period for elections held on the May uniform election date also applies to runoff elections derived from elections held on the May date. This change represents a codification of current Secretary of State opinion.

SECTION 9 amends Section 85.004(a), Election Code, to state that the public notice of polling places must contain the location of each early voting polling place. Prior law had only required the notice state the location of the main early voting polling place. This change is consistent with Section 5 above.

SECTION 10 adds Section 101.0041 to the Election Code. The new section requires the early voting clerk to notify the voter registrar if he or she receives an FPCA in which the voter claims a residence address outside the county. (See Section 6 of the Act which requires the registrar to cancel the voter’s registration after receipt of this notice).

SECTION 11 amends Section 112.002(a)(2), Election Code, to clarify that a person must be currently registered to vote in his or her county of previous residence to be eligible to vote a limited ballot in the voter’s new county. This change is intended to address a situation in which voters could argue that they were eligible to cast a provisional ballot even if their registration in the old county of residence had been cancelled because the limited ballot procedure did not explicitly require current registration in the former county of residence.

SECTION 12 adds Section 125.010 to the Code (Presence of Voting System Technician Authorized), which defines a voting system technician as a person who repairs, assembles, maintains, or operates voting system equipment as a vocation. Section 125.010(b) provides that the authority holding the election may authorize a voting system technician to be present at the polling place, EVBB, or central counting station for repairs, maintenance, assembling, or operating voting system equipment.

SECTION 13 adds Section 141.040 to the Code (Notice of Deadlines), which requires the authority, with whom an application for a place on the ballot must be filed, to post notice of the filing period dates in a building in which the authority maintains an office. The notice must be posted not later than the 30th day before the first day to file.

SECTION 14 reenacts Section 146.0301(a), Election Code, to set the 67th day before election day as the withdrawal deadline for write-in candidates in the November General Election for State and County Officers. Two bills from the 2005 session had conflicted with one another, the first (HB 2309) setting the withdrawal deadline for write-ins as the 57th day before election day, while the second (HB 2339) set it as the 67th day.

SECTION 15 amends Section 172.116(b), Election Code, to require the county executive committee to meet on the second Thursday after primary election day for the local canvass.

SECTION 16 amends 172.120, Election Code to require that for races with three or more candidates on the ballot, the state executive committee canvass must take place not later than the second Sunday after the general primary election day. For other offices, the canvass must take place on the 22nd day after the general primary election day. For the runoff primary canvass, the state executive committee must complete the canvass no later than the third Saturday after the election, rather than the second. This codifies current Secretary of State administrative rules.

SECTION 17 amends Section 192.031, Election Code, to require the state party chair to deliver the written certification of the presidential and vice presidential nominees to the Secretary of State by the later of 5 pm of the 70th day before election day or 5 pm of the first business day after the adjournment of the party’s national presidential nominating convention. Section 192.031(b) is added to state that a mailed certification is considered filed on receipt by the Secretary of State’s office. This change is also enacted in House Bill 1193 of this 81st Legislative Session.

SECTION 18 amends Section 192.033(b), Election Code, to provide that the Secretary of State must certify the presidential and vice presidential candidate on the later of the 62nd day before presidential election day or the second business day after the date of the adjournment of the party’s national convention.

SECTION 19 amends Section 201.054(a), Election Code, to set the deadline to file an application in a special election to fill a vacancy at the 62nd day before election day if the election was ordered on or before the 70th day before election day. Prior changes to this law had resulted in three tiers of potential filing deadlines for special elections. This change provides that the filing deadline for a special election ordered well before election day will be the same as the regular filing deadline for a place on a general election ballot (Note: this does not apply to special elections ordered for the Presidential or Gubernatorial General Election dates).

SECTION 20 amends Section 212.112, Election Code, to simplify the deposit rates for recount elections to $60 for each precinct in which regular paper ballots were used and $100 for each precinct in which an electronic voting system was used. This represents a change from current law, under which the required deposit is derived from a formula based on the method of voting used in the election, the number of precincts, the hourly rate paid to election judges, and whether the requestor wants a manual or electronic count of the ballots.

SECTION 21 amends Section 213.013, Election Code, to replace the term “representative” with the term “watcher” to refer to recount observers, which is more consistent with the language in the rest of the Election Code.

SECTION 22 amends Section 213.016, Election Code, to clean up language, but does not make any substantive changes. 

SECTION 23 amends Section 221.014(b), Election Code, to remove obsolete references to the Alcoholic Beverage Code since the local option liquor elections have been moved out of that Code and into Chapter 501 of the Election Code.

SECTION 24 amends Section 271.002, Election Code, to replace the requirement that entities conducting a joint election must share “territory” with the new requirement that the entities only have to be located in all or part of the same “county.” Under this change, jurisdictions without overlapping territories may now participate in joint elections as long as they each have territory in the same county.

SECTION 25 amends Section 277.001, Election Code, to remove obsolete references to the Alcoholic Beverage Code since the local option liquor elections have been moved out of that Code and into Chapter 501 of the Election Code.

SECTIONS 26 and 27 repeals all the old exemptions in the Election Code that referred to local option liquor petitions under the Alcoholic Beverage Code since local option has been added to the Election Code as Chapter 501. Additionally, Section 1.016, Election Code, is repealed which provided that age was calculated from the day before the anniversary of the person’s birthday. The definition caused confusion as to when a person actually reached the age of 18 for determining a person’s eligibility for voting.

SECTION 28 provides that changes made by this Act apply to elections ordered on or after September 1, 2009.

SECTION 29 provides that September 1, 2009 is the effective date.

Senate Bill 1134 - Provides that certain high school students are eligible to serve as election clerks.  The student may serve as an election clerk if they are at least 16 years of age or older, a US citizen, and a student of good standing at a public or private secondary school, and has completed any training course required by the entity holding the election.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 32.051, 32.0511
Education Code §§ 25.087, 33.092

Senate Bill 1402 - Requires a political subdivision, which is located entirely in a county with a population of more than 500,000 that is served by a county elections administrator and that does not contain a municipality with a population of more than 150,000, to contract with a county elections administrator if it receives a petition signed by 1% of voters in the last general election of the municipality.  The bill requires the petition to be submitted to the clerk of the political subdivision before January 1 of the year in which the election to be administered under the requested election services contract will be held.  Note this bill does not apply to irrigation districts.

Effective Date: June 19, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 32.051, 32.0511

Senate Bill 2067 - Requires political party conventions to be accessible to convention participants in the same manner as the primary election polling places are required to be accessible to voters with disabilities.

Effective Date: September 1, 2009
Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§ 174.022