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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2017-06

To: Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: July 20, 2017

RE:

NEW LAW: Senate Bill 957 – Numbering/Letting of Propositions on Ballot

Senate Bill 957 (85th Legislature, RS, 2017), effective June 1, 2017, amends Section 52.095 and 274.004 of the Texas Election Code with respect to the placement and labeling of propositions on the ballot by political subdivisions. Senate Bill 957 made three major changes to the law in regards to propositions on the ballot:

  1. A proposed constitutional amendment must be placed on the ballot before all other propositions. (Section 274.004, as amended)
  2. ONLY statewide propositions can be assigned numbers (Proposition 1, Proposition 2, etc). (Section 52.095, as amended).
  3. Propositions for local political subdivisions now cannot use numbers to identify their propositions, but instead must assign a unique letter of the alphabet to each local proposition that will appear on the ballot (Section 52.095, as amended).

NOTE: The effective date of the bill is June 1, 2017. Any elections ordered after this date must comply with the procedure for placement and labeling of propositions on the ballot established by Senate Bill 957.

Numbering of Statewide Propositions

A statewide proposition that will appear on the ballot must be assigned a number that corresponds to the proposition’s order on the ballot. The number of a statewide proposition will be assigned by the authority ordering the election. Note that for the constitutional amendment election, the secretary of state will conduct a drawing to determine the order of the propositions; the propositions will be numbered in accordance with the order in which they are drawn.  The secretary of state will certify to each county judge each proposition’s number and ballot language.   As noted above, a proposed constitutional amendment must be placed on the ballot before all other propositions.

Lettering of Local Propositions

For a non-statewide proposition, the authority ordering the election must assign a letter of the alphabet to each proposition that corresponds with that proposition’s order on the ballot. All propositions must also identify the name of the authority ordering the election.

SB 957 grants the Office of the Secretary of State the authority to prescribe procedures necessary to implement the changes in law made by the bill. Our office has determined that propositions on the ballot shall be formatted so that the name of the authority ordering the election appears first as a heading followed by a listing of the propositions for that authority. Each proposition title shall contain the name of the authority ordering the election plus the assigned unique letter (A, B, C, etc.). The name of the authority ordering the election must sufficiently identify that authority.

Examples of Lettering of Local Propositions

For a county-ordered election on a proposition, the heading of “Sample County Special Election” would appear first on the ballot followed by a listing of the propositions. Those propositions may be titled as “County of Sample Proposition A”, “Sample County Proposition A” or any other titles which sufficiently identify the county as the authority ordering the election and use the unique letter of the alphabet corresponding to that proposition’s order on the ballot.

Similarly, for an election ordered by a city, the heading of “City of Sample Special Election” would appear on the ballot followed by a listing of propositions for the city election. The city propositions may be titled as “City of Sample Proposition A”, “Sample City Proposition A”, “Sample Proposition A” or any other titles which sufficiently identify the city as the authority ordering the election and use the unique letter of the alphabet corresponding to that proposition’s order on the ballot.

School districts would use a heading of “Sample Independent School District Special Election” or “Sample I.S.D. Special Election,” followed by a listing of propositions for the school district election. The school district propositions may be titled as “Sample Independent School District Proposition A”, “Sample I.S.D. Proposition A”, “S.I.S.D. Proposition A” or, again, any other titles which sufficiently identify the school district and use the unique letter of the alphabet corresponding to that proposition’s order on the ballot.

Thus, for example, if Sample City had multiple propositions on the ballot, the propositions could appear as follows:

Sample City Proposition A
Sample City Proposition B
Sample City Proposition C
Sample City Proposition D 

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.

KI:CG:AM