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Election Advisory No. 2012-02

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: February 1, 2012
RE: Conducting Criminal Background Check pertaining to House Bill 2524

This serves as a reminder that criminal background checks are required for all election officials, staff and temporary workers who are engaged in pre-election programming, testing and preparing of the voting system equipment for Early Voting and Election Day. This does not include poll workers (election judges and clerks) assigned to work election voting centers or precincts, but does include temporary workers hired to test, store, or service voting equipment.

A person having a criminal record is not automatically disqualified from working with electronic voting equipment. However, the hiring entity should consider the nature of the crime(s) in determining whether to hire or assign voting system duties to an individual with a criminal record. You may wish to consult with your Human Resources Department to develop a policy similar to your governing body’s regular employment policy regarding persons with a criminal background.

If you contract with your vendor to program, test, or perform maintenance on the voting equipment prior to an election, you may wish to require the vendor to certify that a criminal background check has been performed on the necessary employees. We recommend that part of your agreement or contract with the vendor include wording that they (the vendor) have performed that duty. Suggested language to include:

_______________ Company certifies that a criminal background check on all employees, including temporary employees, that may program, test, perform maintenance, transport equipment, or perform technical support on the voting system equipment for (name of entity) has been performed. The Company has determined there are no findings that would prevent the employees from performing their assigned duties.

Criminal background checks conducted through the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) Crime Records Service will provide information on arrests, prosecutions and the disposition of the case for persons arrested for Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of Texas criminal statutes included in the secured Computerized Criminal History System (“CCHS”). CCHS is available for use by legislatively-authorized government entities at a cost of $1.00 per search. Election custodians will be required to create a secure online account to conduct criminal history checks via CCHS. DPS has requested that each county elections custodian register the county with the user name that fits this formula: “Name of Your County/Elections” (e.g. Upshur County/Elections).

Elections custodians will be required to sign a User Entity Agreement and a User Acknowledgement Agreement and fax completed documents to DPS. These documents will be presented to you online when you register for an account. Print each document and follow the instructions provided online, but fax the documents instead of mailing them as indicated on the website. When forwarding these documents, include a letter on your county letterhead requesting access to the secured CCHS and stating that the secured system search will be used in accordance with Texas Election Code § 129.051(g).

It can take up to four (4) weeks to establish an account, but once activated, authorized county personnel will be able to conduct background checks as required by Texas Election Code § 129.051(g). If you need assistance accessing the DPS website, please contact the DPS representatives at 512-424-2474.

If you have any questions, please contact the Elections Division toll-free at 1-800-252-2216.