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Secretary Scott Encourages Texans to Get Involved in Local Elections, Take Advantage of Online Training Opportunities

February 10, 2022
Contact: Sam Taylor
512-463-6116

AUSTIN — Texas Secretary of State John Scott today encouraged Texans to learn how to get involved in their local elections by learning how to become election workers, poll watchers, student voting clerks and volunteer deputy registrars through the Texas Secretary of State's online training resources available at www.votetexas.gov.

"Having a safe and secure election starts with well-trained and dedicated election workers at the local level, and we want to make sure all Texans who want to get involved have the resources and information they need to support county officials who are working around the clock to prepare for the upcoming election cycle," Secretary Scott said. "Whether you want to help out with voter registration or the voting process itself, we are here to provide the training and certification necessary to strengthen election administration, voter participation and voter confidence across the state."

To learn more, visit www.votetexas.gov/get-involved.

How to Become an Election Worker

Under Texas law, you are eligible to be appointed as an election worker if you are:

    • A U.S. Citizen
    • A qualified voter in the jurisdiction in which the election is being conducted (County or municipality)

To get the process started, you can take Texas’ Online Poll Worker Training program. This web-based curriculum mirrors the Handbook for Election Judges and Clerks (PDF) and will train poll workers about polling place procedures. In addition to the information found in the handbook, there are test questions, real life case studies/exercises to resolve and other features such as voting equipment videos or instructions specific to your county. The online training is available free of charge, 24/7, for all poll workers. They can take the training anytime and anywhere they have Internet access.

With the online course, Poll Workers can use their computer or mobile device, skip around from lesson to lesson, start, stop and come back to where they left off, and utilize the progress bar showing their advancements through the course.

Registering into the Online Poll Worker Training Program:

Poll Workers must self-register into the system by signing up for the course. To sign-up, they must select and enter a:

  • County Location or “City-School-Other Political Subdivisions”
  • First and Last Name
  • Email Address
  • Username
  • Password

Once registered, the poll worker will be prompted to login using their newly created user name and password, and will have immediate access to the training.

If you do not have an email address, ;you can create one using one of the free providersl.

Important Note: If you have ever been registered as an Administrator or a Student in the past, your old login name and password will no longer work. In this site, administrator rights are reserved for the Texas Secretary of State.

Should you have any questions about the Online Poll Worker Training, please mail PollWorkerTraining@sos.texas.gov or call toll free at 1.800.252.8683.

How to Become a Poll Watcher

In Texas elections, a Poll Watcher is a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of:

  • A candidate;
  • A political party; or
  • The proponents or opponents of a measure (specific-purpose political action committees)

Acceptance at a Polling Location

Poll watchers must receive a certificate of appointment and present that certificate to the presiding judge at the polling place. The forms for those certificates are available here:

Poll watchers must also complete the Texas Secretary of State’s program and present a certificate of completion to the presiding judge in order to be accepted as a poll watcher. Once you complete the training, simply print the certificate of completion and have it ready to present to the presiding judge along with your certificate of appointment.

Complete the Poll Watcher Training Program

Poll watchers are allowed to observe and report on irregularities in the conduct of any election, but may not interfere in the orderly conduct of an election. A watcher appointed under Chapter 33 of the Texas Election Code shall observe without obstructing the conduct of an election and call to the attention of an election officer any observed or suspected irregularity or violation of law in the conduct of the election.

Oath and Qualifications

Before being accepted, the poll watcher must take the following oath, administered by the presiding judge at the polling place:

"I swear (or affirm) that I will not disrupt the voting process or harass voters in the discharge of my duties."

To become a poll watcher, you must:

  • Be a registered voter of the territory (e.g., city, school district) covered by the election and of the county for November general elections for state and county officers (held on even-numbered years), primary elections, or other countywide elections;
  • NOT be a candidate for public office in an election held on the day the watcher seeks to serve;
  • NOT hold an elective public office;
  • NOT be an employee of an election judge or clerk serving at the same polling place;
  • NOT have been finally convicted of an offense in connection with conduct directly attributable to an election; AND
  • NOT be related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity (as determined by Tex. Gov’t Code, Secs. 573.022-573.025) to an election judge or clerk serving at that polling place. These include spouses, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren. A watcher may be related to the candidate the watcher is representing.

Removal from Polling Place

A presiding judge at a polling location may not have a watcher removed from the polling place unless a violation of election law or any other provision of law relating to the conduct of an election is observed by an election judge or clerk. However, a presiding judge may remove a poll watcher for a violation of the Penal Code, regardless of whether the election judge or clerk observed the violation. Additionally, a presiding judge may call a law enforcement officer to request a poll watcher be removed if the poll watcher commits a breach of the peace or a violation of law.

Poll Watcher’s Guide

To learn more about a poll watcher’s duty and the types of illegal activities a watcher should look for, please read the Texas Secretary of State’s Poll Watcher Guide (PDF).

Become a Student Clerk

High school students who are 16 years of age or older now have the opportunity to participate in the electoral process by serving as elections clerks at the polling place during Early Voting or on Election Day. A student who is at least 16 years of age and who is enrolled in a public or private high school or home school and has the consent of the principal (or parent/legal guardian in charge of education in home school) may serve as an election clerk. The elections officials must receive written authorization from the student's parent or guardian for the student to serve in the election for which he or she is appointed.

This program is designed to provide students with a greater awareness of the electoral process and the rights and responsibilities of voters. The students will assist their local election officials by filling positions at polling places during the Early Voting period or on Election Day and working under the direction of the polling place presiding judge.

How to Apply

  • Fill out the Student Election Clerk Application and Permission Slip (PDF).
  • Have your parent or guardian sign the Parent/Legal Guardian Permission portion.
  • Have your school principal sign the School Principal Permission portion. Also, take the proper steps to ensure that your absence from school in order to work during Early Voting or on Election Day will be excused.
  • Send the application to the local elections officials conducting the election in which you wish to serve (county clerk/elections administrator, city secretary, school superintendent, etc.). Try to send the application at least 60 days prior to Election Day (even though there is no statutory deadline).
  • If selected, attend the required election training class prior to serving as a clerk. This training provides all the necessary information and knowledge to be a successful elections clerk.
  • Work at the polls as assigned during Early Voting or on Election Day.

Important Notes

  • A school district may excuse a student for the purpose of serving as an Early Voting and/or Election Day clerk for a maximum of two days in a school year.
    • Example: A student could work two weekdays during Early Voting for an election held on Saturday, May 7, 2022, and then also work on Election Day, as the student would only have to be excused from school for two days.
  • Up to four student election clerks may work at a single Early Voting site at a time, and up to two student clerks may work at an Election Day polling place at a time.

Remember…When you turn 18 you will have reached the age to serve as a regular election clerk or judge!

Become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar

Volunteer Deputy Registrars are entrusted with the responsibility of officially registering voters in the State of Texas. They are appointed by county voter registrars and charged with helping increase voter registration in the state.

Qualifications

To be appointed a volunteer deputy registrar, a person must:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • be a United States citizen;
  • not have been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be
    • totally mentally incapacitated, or
    • partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote;
  • never have been convicted of failing to deliver a voter application to a voter registrar;
  • not have been finally convicted of a felony, or, if convicted, must have
    • fully discharged the sentence, including any term of incarceration, parole, or supervision, or completed a period of probation ordered by any court, or
    • been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disability to vote;
  • not have been finally convicted of identity theft under ection 32.51 of the Penal Code; and
  • be a resident of the State of Texas.

How to Become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar

  • Contact the voter registrar in your county.
  • The voter registrar will provide you with information about how training will be offered and completed.
  • Upon satisfactorily completing training and examination, if required, the voter registrar will appoint you as a volunteer deputy registrar and advise you of any county-specific procedures for processing voter registration applications and that the only requirements for voter registration are those prescribed by state law or by the Secretary of State.
  • The voter registrar will issue you a certificate of appointment and give you a receipt book or voter registration applications with a tear off receipt.
  • You may not receive another person's voter registration application until you have completed the training developed or approved by the Secretary of State.

Length of Appointment

You may be appointed a volunteer deputy registrar at any time. However, your term expires on December 31 of an even-numbered year.

Your appointment as a volunteer deputy registrar may be terminated by the appointing authority if it is determined that you:

  • failed to properly review a voter registration application;
  • intentionally destroyed or physically altered a registration application; or
  • engaged in any other activity that conflicts with your responsibilities as a volunteer deputy registrar.

Your appointment as a volunteer deputy registrar will be terminated by the appointing authority if:

  • you are finally convicted of an offense under the law relating to delivery of completed voter registration applications to the registrar; or
  • you are finally convicted of an offense under the law relating to performance-based compensation for voter registrations.

All election materials issued to a volunteer deputy registrar, including the certificate of appointment, receipt books, receipts, VR applications and other forms in the volunteer deputy registrar’s possession, must be returned or accounted for upon termination of appointment.

Learn more about the duties and responsibilities of a Volunteer Deputy Registrar.

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