Election Notice:  ID requirements for voting in person  |  ID requirements for voting by mail  |  Election Night Returns

Election Advisory No. 2011-19

To: All Election Officials
From: Elizabeth Hanshaw Winn, Interim Director of Elections
Date: December 7, 2011
RE: Voting System Chain of Custody

Section 129.051(b), Texas Election Code provides as follows:  The general custodian of election records shall develop a procedure for tracking the custody of each electronic information storage medium from its storage location, through election coding and the election process, to its final post-election disposition and return to storage. The chain of custody must require two or more individuals to perform a check and verification check whenever a transfer of custody occurs.

The "chain of custody" establishes who has access to an important piece of physical equipment or media that must remain tamper-free.  If you cannot firmly establish that only authorized, trusted parties have handled a piece of medium from the time it left your presence until it was returned intact, then you will not be able to prove that there was no tampering.

Chain of Custody procedures apply to the complete record of the election - all associated items and articles, including poll books, spoiled or ruined, blank and provisional ballots, flash cards, memory cards, machine tapes and DRE machines. 

To define the procedures and physical safeguards for moving election information storage medium from one location to another, it is necessary for the custodian of elections to develop and use formal chain of custody procedures that control and track physical access of elections equipment and media. Chain of custody forms that are signed by the person delivering the equipment/media and the person receiving the equipment/media should be employed whenever a transfer of custody occurs. These forms should provide space for items to be identified, including: adding serial numbers, seal numbers (if applicable), the printed name and signature of the person transferring the equipment/media and the printed name and signature of the person receiving the equipment/media, as well as the date and time these events occur. Forms should be maintained as part of the record of election for the 22-month time period prescribed by law. Several examples of chain of custody forms that can be adapted for county use are included in this directive.

Chain of Custody - Example 1 (PDF)
Chain of Custody - Example 2 (PDF)
Chain of Custody - Example 3 (PDF)
Chain of Custody - Example 4 (PDF)
Chain of Custody - Example 5 (PDF)

If you have any questions, please contact the Elections Division toll-free at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683).