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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2017-18

To: Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: October 25, 2017

RE:

2017 Legislative Summary

Below is a brief summary of the major election-related legislation that passed during the 85th  Regular Session and Special Session (2017).

Bills passed during the 2017 Regular Session

House Bill 8: Requires the Secretary of State to conduct a study regarding cyber attacks on election infrastructure and prepare a public summary report and a confidential report on the findings.  The report must include identified county election vulnerabilities and risks for a cyber attack against a county’s voting system machines or the list of registered voters, as well as any attempted attacks on voting machines. The report must also include recommendations for protecting county voting machines and voter registration systems from a cyber attack.  The reports must be completed by December 1, 2018.

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 276.011

House Bill 25:  Ends the ability to allow voters the option of voting a straight party ballot with one selection. It also requires the Secretary of State and the voter registrar of each county that maintains a website to notify voters on their websites by September 2020 that straight ticket voting will not be an option going forward. This information provided on the website must be in each language in which voter registration and election materials are available. NOTE: This bill is not effective until September 1, 2020 and thus will not affect the general election for state and county officers in November 2018.

The bill also:   

Effective Date: September 1, 2020

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 1.005, 31.012, 52.071, 62.011, 64.004, 65.007, 65.011, 105.002, 122.001, 124.001, 124.003, 124.063, 129.023, and 232.050.

House Bill 658: This bill added new Section 63.0013 to the Code, which provides that voters with mobility problems and their assistants may be accepted for voting ahead of other voters in line. A mobility problem is defined as one that substantially impairs a person’s ability to move around, such as paralysis, lung disease, use of portable oxygen, cardiac deficiency, severe limitation in the ability to walk due to arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition, wheelchair confinement, arthritis, foot disorder, the inability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest, or use of a brace, cane, crutch, or other assistive device.

See Notice of Voting Order Priority (PFD)

In addition, this bill created a new Chapter 107 to the Election Code to provide procedures for voting by mail at residential care facilities. See Election Advisory No. 2017-12 for details on this procedure.

NOTE: Pursuant to HB 658, the provisions regarding voting by mail at a residential care facility are effective September 1, 2017. However, Senate Bill 5 (85th Legislature, Special Session, 2017), repealed Chapter 107 as of December 1, 2017. Therefore, this procedure is in place for the November 7, 2017 and other elections held prior to December 1, 2107 but not for elections held on or after December 1, 2017.

Effective Date: September 1, 2017 (but see Note referenced above regarding repeal of new Chapter 107 which is effective December 1, 2017)

Statutes Affected:  Election Code §§ 63.0013, 86.003, 86.004, 107.001, 107.002, 107.003, 107.004, 107.005, 107.006, 107.007, 107.008, 107.009, 107.010, 107.011, 107.012, 107.013, 107.014, 107.015, 107.016, and 107.017.

       Government Code: §§ 242.0181 and 247.008

House Bill 929:  Provides that members of the military and their families using a Federal Postcard Application (“FPCA”) (domestic or overseas) have until the sixth day following election day to return their ballot and have it counted.  If that date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal state or national holiday, then the deadline is extended to the next regular business day. A postmark is not required. See Election Advisory No. 2017-11 for additional information regarding this deadline. 

  In addition, the bill also:

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code §§ 67.003 and 101.057

House Bill 1001:  Provides that the presiding officer of the canvassing authority must note the completion of the canvass in the minutes or in the recording required by Section 551.021 of the Government Code.

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 67.004

House Bill 1151: Provides that a voted ballot by mail is timely if it is received by 5:00 p.m. on the day after election day (Monday following a Saturday election) and is postmarked by 7:00 p.m. on election day. Ballots from overseas voters (except military using FPCA) can be received up to 5 days after election day, but must be postmarked by election day. Ballots received after election day are rejected without a postmark (except military using FPCA). See Election Advisory No. 2017-11 for additional information regarding these deadlines. 

The bill also amended Section 87.125(a-1) of the Code (counting of certain late ballots voted by mail) to include a reference to new Section 86.007(d-1).

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 86.007 and 87.125

House Bill 1661: Allows the name of a candidate who withdraws after the deadline prescribed by Section 145.092 of the Code but before ballots are “prepared” to be omitted from the ballot.  The authority responsible for preparing the ballots may choose to omit the candidate from the ballot if the ballots have not been prepared at the time the candidate files the withdrawal request.

The bill also provides that a certification of unopposed status may be made following the filing of a withdrawal required by a candidate after the deadline prescribed by Section 145.092 if:

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 2.052 and 145.098

House Bill 1735:  Expanded the list of individuals that may administer oaths which are required by the Texas Constitution or the Election Code. See Election Advisory No. 2017-10 for additional information regarding the expanded list of individuals who may administer oaths. 

The bill also amended several other procedures:

Changes Relating to Election Judges and Clerks:

Changes Relating to Early Voting, and the EVBB:

Changes Relating to the Central Counting Station:

Changes Relating to the Countywide Polling Place Program:

Changes Relating to Primary Elections:

Other Changes:

Effective Date:   September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code §§ 1.016, 31.092, 31.093, 32.002, 32.006, 32.009, 32.010, 32.012,32.034, 32.114, 43.007, 61.003, 85.009, 85.0091, 87.006, 87.127, 127.0015, 127.004,  127.007, 127.096, 129.023, 141.031, 141.039, 145.036, 162.004, 162.014, 172.082, 1722.083, 172.084, 172.1111, 172.1112, 172.1114, 172.112, 172.113, 172.114, 172.1141, 172.115, 172.116, 172.117, 172.118, 172.119, 172.121, 172.122, 172.123, 172.124, 172.126, 172.127, 172.128, 172.129, 172.130, 173.001, 173.010, 173.032, 173.033, 173.034, 173.036, 173.062, 173.064, 173.081, 173.0832, 173.0833, 173.084, 173.0851, 173.088, and 276.011.

House Bill 2015:  Requires the voter registrar to forward a list of voters who have indicated an interest in working as an election judge to the county chair of each county executive committee.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code § 13.004

House Bill 2157:  Provides that a candidate’s application for a place on the ballot must be signed and sworn to before a person authorized to administer oaths in this state. The affidavit of petition circulator must also be executed before a person authorized to administer oaths in this state.  Also provides that a single notarized affidavit by any person who obtained signatures on the petition is valid for all signatures gathered by the person if the date of notarization is on or after the date of the last signature obtained by the person.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code §§ 141.031 and 141.065

House Bill 2323:  Clarifies that for a special election to be held on the date of the general election for state and county officers, the filing deadline is 6:00 p.m. of the 75th day before election day.  Also clarifies that a declaration of write-in candidacy for special elections must be filed no later than the filing deadline for all candidates.

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 201.054

House Bill 2324:  Provides that a voter registration application submitted to a volunteer deputy registrar after the 34th day before the date of an election and on or before the last day for a person to timely submit a registration application for that election shall be delivered not later than 5:00 p.m. of the next regular business day after the date to timely submit a registration application for that election. 

Effective Date: September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 13.042

House Bill 2559:  Provides that an application for a ballot by mail (either regular or annual) is not available for public inspection, except to the voter whose application it is, until the first business day after the election day of the earliest occurring election for which the application is submitted.

Effective Date:   September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code § 86.014

House Bill 2837:  Provides that the Secretary of State may not make a payment to a voter registrar if on June 1 of the year in which the payment is to be made the registrar is not in substantial compliance with Section 16.031 of the Code.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code § 19.002

House Bill 4034:  Requires the voter registrar to forward to the county chair of each county executive committee the information necessary to contact applicants who indicate interest in working as an election judge. 

The bill also:

Effective Date:  June 12, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 13.004, 16.031, 18.061, 18.0681, 19.002, 84.014, and 101.053.
Government Code § 62.0132

Senate Bill 5 (85th Legislature, RS, 2017): Provides that the Secretary of State shall implement a program to provide free election identification certificates to persons who need them on an event invitation basis. 

The bill also:

See Election Advisory No. 2017-15 regarding current voter identification procedures.

Effective Date: January 1, 2018

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 31.013, 63.001, 63.0013, 63.004, 63.0101, 63.012, and 272.011
Transportation Code § 521A.001

Senate Bill 42: Provides that the Office of Court Administration is required to notify voter registrars of the names of judges and district attorneys and their families that should be suppressed from public disclosure. The bill also expands the definition of “state judge.”

Effective Date:  September 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 13.0021 and 15.0215

Senate Bill 44: Reinstates the requirement that candidates for the judiciary in counties with more than 1.5 million in population file 250 petition signatures in addition to the fee or regular petition requirements. 

The bill also:

Effective Date:  May 23, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 141.032, 141.034, and 172.021

Senate Bill 256:  Provides for the suppression of address information for victims of sexual abuse, stalking, human trafficking or family violence.

Effective Date:  May 19, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 13.004

Senate Bill 752: Provides that the Secretary of State shall select to participate in the overseas military e-mail ballot program any county that desires to participate in the program and is determined to have the appropriate technological capabilities.  The bill also repealed Sections 105.004(c), (d), and (e) of the Code.

Effective Date:  May 27, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code § 105.004

Senate Bill 957: Provides that only state propositions will be numbered and that state propositions must be listed before any others. All other propositions must be lettered consecutively with the name of the entity stated with the letter of the proposition. See Advisory Number 2017-06 for additional information regarding this procedure.

Effective Date:  June 1, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code §§ 52.095 and 274.004

Senate Bill 1109: Allows the authority of certain political subdivisions to change the date of the general election for officers.

Effective Date: June 9, 2017

Statutes Affected: Election Code § 41.0052

Joint Resolutions passed during the 2017 Regular Session

HJR 21 - “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization for less than the market value of the residence homestead and harmonizing certain related provisions of the Texas Constitution.”

HJR 37 - “The constitutional amendment relating to legislative authority to permit credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.”

HJR 100 - “The constitutional amendment on professional sports team charitable foundations conducting charitable raffles.”

SJR 1 - “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a first responder who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

SJR 6 - “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to require a court to provide notice to the attorney general of a challenge to the constitutionality of a state statute and authorizing the legislature to prescribe a waiting period before the court may enter a judgment holding the statute unconstitutional.”

SJR 34 - “The constitutional amendment limiting the service of certain officeholders appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate after the expiration of the person’s term of office.”

SJR 60 - “The constitutional amendment to establish a lower amount for expenses that can be charged to a borrower and removing certain financing expense limitations for a home equity loan, establishing certain authorized lenders to make a home equity loan, changing certain options for the refinancing of home equity loans, changing the threshold for an advance of a home equity line of credit, and allowing home equity loans on agricultural homesteads.”

Bill passed during the 2017 Special Session

Senate Bill 5 (85th Legislature, Special Session, 2017):  Repeals House Bill 658’s residential care facilities program under Chapter 107 of the Election Code as of December 1, 2017. This means that Chapter 107 of the Code would include elections held through November 30, 2017. However, Chapter 107 will not apply to any runoff elections stemming from the November election date or second elections held due to a tie that are scheduled on or after December 1, 2017. See Election Advisory No. 2017-12 for details on this procedure.

The bill also:

Effective Date:  December 1, 2017

Statutes Affected:  Election Code: §§ 64.012, 66.058, 84.001, 84.0041, 84.007, 84.032, 84.037, 86.003, 86.004, 86.0051, 86.006, 86.010, 87.027, 87.041, 87.0431, Chapter 107, and 276.013.

Health and Safety Code: §§ 242.0181 and 247.008

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