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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2018-01

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: January 4, 2018

RE:

Registering a Voter at a Business Address

Background

We continue to receive a number of inquiries regarding voter applications submitted to a county that are complete, but whose residential address is identified by the county as a place of business. To that end, we have compiled a more detailed explanation for how these applications should be processed by the county.

Defining an address as business or residential

It should be noted that there is no provision in Election Code that allows a voter registrar to designate addresses as business addresses and use that information in the processing of a voter registration application. Section 13.002, which is the standard for review when processing an application, requires “the applicant’s residential address or, if the residence has no address, the address at which the applicant receives mail and a concise description of the location of the applicant’s residence” be provided when registering. (13.002(c)(7)) Addresses submitted as concise descriptions are commonly referred to as Parcel Addresses.

Section 1.005 (17) defines a “Residence address” as “the street address and any apartment number, or the address at which mail is received if the residence has no address, and the city, state and zip code that correspond to a person’s residence. Provided that an individual has appropriately submitted an address that meets these qualifications, then there is no authority upon which a voter registrar may determine an address is not classified as residential as part of the processing of an application. Under current Election Code, a person’s residency may only be determined by a court of law.

Thus, a voter registrar must register an individual if the application is complete and the registrar determines the person is otherwise eligible, provided that the voter registrar can determine the location of the address claimed by the applicant and assign the correct voting districts to the voter upon

registration. The voter registrar has no authority to ask an individual to supply additional information through the incomplete process or any other process prior to registering the person.

While current law does not permit a registrar to take address information into account at the point of registration, it should be noted, however, that voter registrars may designate an address as a business address to assist them in managing a voter’s registration once a person has been registered. Section 15.051 gives the registrar the authority to ask the voter to confirm his/her residential address if the registrar has reason to believe that a voter’s current residence is different from that indicated on the registration records.

Voter Registrars designating an address as a place of business for this purpose may then register a voter, send the voter registration certificate and then immediately initiate a Notice of Address Confirmation and send that as well. It should be noted that these documents should be mailed independently of each other.

If the voter returns the confirmation notice (confirming the business address as his/her residence address), then the voter registrar has to accept the address provided by the voter and leave the voter registered at that address. Voter Registrars believing this information to be a false statement may refer the information to the County Attorney or District Attorney to investigate it, since claiming that address as a residence address could be fraudulent.

Options for processing a voter registration application:

Current law allows for four possible outcomes when processing any voter application. Depending on the circumstances of the application the processing of an application may result in:

Section 13.072 requires that a voter registrar approve an application if the registrar determines that an application complies with section 13.002 and passes the Live Check process.

For more information, please contact the Elections Division at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683).

KI:BS:CG