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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2011-06

To: County Chairs, County Clerks/Elections Administrators, and County Judges
From: Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections
Date: June 2, 2011
RE: Appointment Procedures for County Election Precinct Presiding and Alternate Judges, Election Clerks, Early Voting Ballot Board Members, Signature Verification Committee Members, and Central Counting Station Personnel

Introduction

We begin by noting the following:

  1. With the approach of the July and August periods for the county commissioners court to appoint election precinct and central counting station presiding and alternate judges, we have prepared this memorandum to remind you of the appointment procedures as set out in Sections 32.002, 87.002, 87.027, and 127.002-127.005 of the Texas Election Code (“Code”). If the court appointed election precinct and central counting station judges in July of 2010 for a two-year term, there will be no reason to make election precinct and central counting station judge appointments in July and August of 2011. Assuming the court will make appointments in July and August of 2011, below are some procedures to follow.

  2. We note the procedure for appointing early voting officers from the party lists (Section 85.009 of the Code) applies only during a General Election for State and County Officers in even-numbered years and does not apply to the November 8, 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election.

  3. Remember that counties may be conducting joint elections for the November 8, 2011 uniform election date with other political subdivisions, such as cities, school districts, water districts, or hospital districts. Keep in mind that the joint election agreement must address how the appointments of election precinct and central counting station presiding and alternate judges will be made.

Appointment Process for County Election Precinct Presiding and Alternate Judges and for the Central Counting Station Election Judge and Alternate Judge

In counties with a population of over 500,000, before July of each year, the county chairs of the political parties whose candidate for governor received the highest and second highest number of votes in the county in the 2010 gubernatorial election must submit a list to the commissioners court naming persons in order of preference who are eligible for appointment as a presiding or alternate judge in each county election precinct and as a central counting station election judge and alternate judge and who are affiliated or aligned with the county chair’s political party.  Id. §§ 32.002 & 127.005(e).  We recommend that the list contain names for every precinct in the county and for the central counting station.  Id. § 32.007.  Lists submitted by mail must be postmarked by June 30, 2011 in order for them to be considered timely-filed.  A county chair may supplement the list of names for election judges until the 20th day before general election (or the 15th day for a special election) in case an appointed judge becomes unable to serve.  After that time, the county judge may make emergency appointments, probably at the request of the county clerk/elections administrator.

In counties with a population of 500,000 or less, before August of each year, the county chairs of the political parties whose candidate for governor received the highest and second highest number of votes in the county in the 2010 gubernatorial election must submit a list to the commissioners court naming persons in order of preference who are eligible for appointment as a presiding or alternate judge in each county election precinct and as a central counting station election judge and alternate judge and who are affiliated or aligned with the county chair’s political party.  Id. §§ 32.002 & 127.005(e).  We recommend that the list contain names for every precinct in the county and for the central counting station.  Id. § 32.007.  Lists submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 31, 2011 in order for them to be considered timely-filed.  A county chair may supplement the list of names for election judges until the 20th day before general election (or the 15th day for a special election) in case an appointed judge becomes unable to serve.  After that time, the county judge may make emergency appointments, probably at the request of the county clerk/elections administrator. 

As stated above, the commissioners court is required to appoint the presiding and alternate election judges for each county election precinct and the central counting station from the lists submitted by the county chairs at its July or August term, as applicable.  Id. §§ 32.001, 32.002 & 127.005(e).  The commissioners court MUST appoint the first eligible person as presiding judge from the list of the party whose candidate for governor received the highest number of votes in that precinct.  Id.  The alternate judge MUST be the first eligible person from the list submitted by the party whose candidate for governor received the second highest number of votes in that precinct.  Id.  In counties with a population of more than 500,000, the terms of the judges start on August 1, 2011.  In counties with a population of 500,000 or less, the terms of the judges start on September 1, 2011.

Both the presiding and alternate judge appointed to serve on election day at the county election precinct must be qualified voters of the election precinct from which they are serving; however, to be eligible to serve as the presiding or alternate judge of the central counting station, one must meet the general eligibility requirements of a precinct presiding judge, except that he or she is required only to be a qualified voter of the county (not for any particular precinct).  Id. §§ 32.051 & 127.005.

Failure to Submit List

If a county chair does not submit names by the June 30, 2011 or July 31, 2011 deadline, as applicable, for a particular precinct, the county clerk or elections administrator shall prepare a list for that precinct.  Id. § 32.002(d).  The commissioners court shall select and appoint an eligible person from the county clerk’s/elections administrator’s list who is affiliated or aligned with the appropriate party, if available.  Id. 

85% Rule

If the political party to which the presiding judge is affiliated or aligned received more than 85% of the gubernatorial vote in the most recent election in that precinct, the other political party’s alternate judge can be a qualified voter of the county (not required to be from the precinct).  Id. § 32.051(e).  If both parties received the same number of gubernatorial votes in a specific precinct (i.e., tie vote), we encourage you to contact our office for assistance, if necessary.

Affiliation - A person affiliates with a particular political party during a given primary election year by either voting in a party’s primary or by taking the oath of affiliation (i.e., swearing that one has not voted in another party’s primary or participated in another party’s convention during that primary year).  Id. §§ 162.003 & 162.006. 

Emergency Appointments - An emergency appointment may be made if the inability of the presiding and alternate judges to serve is discovered after the 20th day before general election (or the 15th day for a special election).  Id. § 32.007.  The authority making the emergency appointment should make a reasonable effort to consult with the party chair from which the judge was originally appointed.

Qualifications of Election Clerks

The presiding judge for each election precinct appoints the election clerks, one of which must be the alternate judge, in the number prescribed by the commissioners court.  Id. §§ 32.031, 32.032 & 32.033.  To be eligible to serve as an election clerk in a precinct, a person must be a qualified voter of the county in a countywide election ordered by the governor or a county authority.  Id. § 32.051.  Students between the ages of 16 and 18 may also qualify to be election clerks.  Id. § 32.0511. Please see our website for further details.

Qualifications of Remaining Central Counting Station Personnel for November General Election

The commissioners court also names the central counting station manager and tabulation supervisor, but these appointments are not subject to the Section 32.002 list procedureId. §§ 32.002, 127.002, & 127.003.  To serve in the capacity as central counting station manager or tabulation supervisor, the individual must be a qualified voter of the county and must meet the requirements set out in Sections 127.002 and 127.003 of the Code.  Id.  Although the assistant tabulation supervisor is appointed by the tabulation supervisor, the assistant must be approved by the commissioners court,  Id. § 127.004.  The assistant tabulation supervisor does not need to be a qualified voter of the political subdivision (i.e., the county).  Id. § 127.004.  Both the presiding judge and central counting station manager may appoint clerks for the counting station in the number authorized by the commissioners court.  Id. § 127.006.

Appointment Process for Early Voting Election Officers

The list procedure does NOT apply to the appointment of early voting workers (main or branch) for the November 8, 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election.  Id. § 85.009.

Appointment of the Early Voting Ballot Board

The presiding judge of the early voting ballot board is appointed by the commissioners court from a list submitted by the county chair of the political party whose candidate received the highest vote for Governor in that county in the 2010 General Election.  The early voting ballot board judge is appointed at the July or August term of court, as applicable, at the same time as other presiding judges and alternate judges for election day precincts.  The presiding judge of the ballot board then appoints other members of the board in accordance with the number set by the commissioners court.

Appointment of Signature Verification Committee

In general, the signature verification committee is a group that meets prior to election day to compare the signatures on the applications for ballot by mail to the corresponding carrier envelopes.  Id. § 87.027(a).  If the early voting clerk determines that a signature verification committee is desirable, the clerk shall issue a written order creating the committee.  Id.  The early voting clerk determines the number of members on the committee, providing for a minimum of five (the committee chair and four members).  Id.  The county election board appoints the members.  Id.  The list procedure does NOT apply to the appointment of a signature verification committee for the November 8, 2011 Constitutional Amendment Election.

If you have any questions or situations that are not covered by this memo, please do not hesitate to contact the Elections Division toll-free at 1-800-252-2216.

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