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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2015-07

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: July 28, 2015
RE: 2015 Legislative Summary

Below is a brief summary of the major election-related legislation that passed during the 84th Regular Session.

Bills

House Bill 484: Requires a candidate to be a registered voter from the territory of office sought in order to be eligible to hold the public office.  Excludes special purpose districts created under Section 52(b)(1) or (2), Article III and Section 59, Article XVI of the Texas Constitution.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §141.001
Government Code: §601.009

House Bill 621: Requires that a certificate of appointment for a volunteer deputy registrar contain a statement informing the volunteer deputy that their appointment may be terminated if they intentionally destroy or alter an application or engage in other conduct that conflicts with their duties as a volunteer deputy registrar.  Provides that a voter registrar may terminate an appointment of a volunteer deputy registrar if the registrar determines that the volunteer deputy registrar intentionally destroyed or altered an application, or engaged in other conduct that conflicts with their duties as a volunteer deputy registrar.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:  

Election Code: §§13.033, 13.036

House Bill 910: Amends the list of acceptable identification under Section 63.0101 to include licenses to carry a handgun instead of a concealed handgun.

Effective Date: January 1, 2016

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §63.0101

House Bill 1026: Amends the qualifications for a tabulation supervisor appointed at a central counting station.  The person must now be a registered voter of the political subdivision served by the authority establishing the counting station, or an employee of the political subdivision that adopts or owns the voting system.

Effective Date: Effectively immediately (June 17, 2015).

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §127.003(b)

House Bill 1927: Amends several procedures related to voting by mail:

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §§ 84.001(e), 84.004(a), 84.007, 84.009(b), 84.011(a), 84.038, 86.0015, 86.006.

House Bill 2027: Provides that county election precincts and polling places must be used for an election held on a uniform date.  However, this requirement does not apply to the May uniform date if:

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §§ 42.002, 42.0621, 43.004(b)

House Bill 2050: Requires that voting history electronically submitted to the Secretary of State specify if the voter voted on election day, voted early by personal appearance, voted early by mail under Chapter 86, or voted early by mail under Chapter 101.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 18.069

House Bill 2160: Restricts the disclosure of e-mail addresses and personal phone numbers of election judges and clerks that are collected by the authority conducting the election.  The information is not public information, but may be disclosed to any entity that submits lists of election judges or clerks for that election, or the state executive committee of a political party with a county chair that is eligible to submit names of election judges and clerks.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 32.076

House Bill 2354: Changes the May uniform election date from the second Saturday in May to the first Saturday in May for both odd and even-numbered years.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 41.001(a)

House Bill 2366: Provides that the early voting clerk shall mark on the precinct list of registered voters “early voting voter” beside the name of each person that appears on the list of early voters, and requires the early voting clerk to provide the precinct list of registered voters to the presiding judge of the election precinct not later than the day before election day.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §§ 62.014, 87.122(c)

House Bill 2721: Provides that an election order and notice, providing the days and hours of early voting, including any Saturday or Sunday hours, must be posted:

Effective Date: Immediately (June 19, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 85.007

House Bill 2735: Allows a municipality whose voters approved the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption in an election held on or after January 1, 1985, to adopt an ordinance authorizing the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption in an area annexed by the municipality after the date of the election.  The area annexed is zoned for commercial use only, and not adjacent to residential, church or school property.  The area annexed must also not be more than one percent of the total area of the municipality.

Effective Date: Immediately (June 15, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Alcoholic Beverage Code: §§ 251.72, 251.725

House Bill 2747: Clarifies the language in the Government Code to provide that a person is qualified for jury service if they are a “citizen” of the United States and “resident” of the Texas and the county in which the person is to serve.

Effective Date:  September 1, 2015.

Statutes Affected:

Government Code: § 62.102

House Bill 2778: Expands the law to provide that a military or overseas voter may receive their balloting materials via email for any election in which the voter is eligible to vote.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 101.104

House Bill 2900: Amends the language to reflect the current federal agency that adopts voting system standards and the name of the standards.

Effective Date:  Immediately (June 1, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 122.001

House Bill 3157: Provides that a county election officer may create one combined notice of cancelled elections for all elections in which the officer is providing election services under a contract.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 2.081

House Bill 3456: Amends procedures related to district executive committees in the following manner:

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 171.054

Senate Bill 142: Provides an optional procedure for training volunteer deputy registrars.  The optional procedure must be developed by the Secretary of State or by the county and approved by the Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State shall continue to provide training materials on its website, and shall prescribe and make available an examination based on the training materials.  A county that adopts this procedure must allow a potential volunteer deputy registrar to take the examination during business hours, and, if the examination is completed successfully, the county must appoint the person as a volunteer deputy registrar.  At the time of appointment, the county must inform the volunteer deputy registrar of any county specific procedures for processing applications, and inform them that the only requirements for voter registration are those prescribed by law of by the Secretary of State.  A county that adopts this optional procedure does not have to provide in-person trainings.

Effective Date: Immediately (June 20, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 13.048

Senate Bill 383: Provides that the jacket envelopes for early voting ballots by mail may be delivered to the early voting ballot board between the ninth day before the last day of early voting by personal appearance and the closing of polls on election day in counties with a population of 100,000 or more for county elections or elections conducted jointly with the county.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 87.0222(a)

Senate Bill 435:  Provides that a county treasurer may administer an oath in Texas under Chapter 602 of the Government Code.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Government Code: § 602.002

Senate Bill 455: Provides that a special three-judge district court may be convened for certain proceedings, including reapportionment of the districts for the House of Representatives, Senate, State Board of Education, United States Congress, or state judicial districts.  The court must be convened at the request of the Attorney General to the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.  The petition will stay proceedings until the Chief Justice may transfer the case to the special three-judge district court.  The special court must be comprised of two district judges and one justice of a court of appeals, all generally from different geographic locations.  The bill also provides language on the location of hearings, travel expenses, applicable rules, certain powers and procedures of the court.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Government Code: § 22A.001

Senate Bill 733: Allows a governing body of a political subdivision, other than a county or municipal utility district, to change their general election date to a November uniform date before December 31, 2016.

Effective Date: Immediately (June 19, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 41.0052(a)

Senate Bill 795: Provides that the Secretary of State shall cooperate with states and jurisdictions to develop systems that compare voter registration date to prevent duplication of registration in more than one state.  The crosscheck system must comply with the National Voter Registration Act.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 18.062

Senate Bill 983: Clarifies that the legislative intent is not to impose a cost for obtaining certified records for the purpose of obtaining an election identification certificate.  Further, the state registrar, local registrar or county clerk shall not charge a fee for searching for or providing a record.  Local registers or county clerks may obtain the payment amount required by law from the state.

Effective Date:  Immediately (May 27, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Health and Safety Code: § 191.0046

Senate Bill 1072: If a precinct or county chair fails to perform statutory duties under the Election Code, or fails to attend four or more consecutive meetings of the county executive committee, they may be removed from office for abandonment.  The county executive committee may pass a resolution allowing a county chair to send notice to a precinct chair that is considered to have abandoned the office.  The notice must state the reasons the chair is believed to have abandoned office, must request a response from the precinct chair not later than the 7th day after receipt of the notice, and must be sent by certified mail.  The state executive committee may pass a similar resolution allowing a state chair to send notice to a county chair that is considered to have abandoned the office.  The notice must include the same elements as that for a precinct chair, and also be sent by certified mail.  If the chair does not respond on or before the 7th day after the chair receives the notice and respond that they wish to remain in office, the office is considered abandoned.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 171.029

Senate Bill 1073: Requires that a candidate’s application for a place on the ballot must include a public mailing address and any available email address at which the candidate receives correspondence relating to the candidate’s campaign.  In addition, the bill makes several changes to the primary election procedures:

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §§ 141.031, 172.021, 172.028, 172.116, 172.117, 172.120, 172.122, 172.124.

Senate Bill 1115: Provides that a pilot program related to the email return of ballots cast by military voters in a combat or hostile fire pay zone may be expanded to include a number of counties as determined by the Secretary of State that desire to participate in the program and have the technological capabilities to participate.  The program will end of September 1, 2017.

Effective Date: Immediately (June 15, 2015)

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 105.004

Senate Bill 1448: Provides an alternative procedure for counties without party leadership for conducting the primary election.  If the office of county chair is vacant and there is not a sufficient number of members on the county executive committee to fill the vacancy, and the party is unable to establish a temporary committee under Section 171.027, the alternative procedure may be used.  On the request of the state chair, the county election officer shall contract with the state chair to hold a primary election in that county.  The county may designate the location of the polling place used at the main early voting location or at another location in county seat to adequately serve the voters.  Voting must be conducted at a minimum during the regular business hours that the county clerk’s main business office is open.  The election returns shall be provided to the state chair.  A precinct convention is not required to be held in a county using the alternative procedure.  A contract for election services shall provide that the county is eligible to be reimbursed in the same manner that a county chair would be reimbursed under Chapter 173.   Election officers appointed may be affiliated or aligned with any political party.  The Secretary of State shall adopt rules to implement this section in accordance with the conduct of elections and with party rule.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 172.128

Senate Bill 1703: The bill amends several provisions related to the election calendar:

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: §§ 1.006, 3.005, 41.001, 65.051, 86.008, 87.125, 101.052, 143.007, 144.005, 144.006, 145.036, 145.092, 145.096, 146.025, 146.0301, 146.054, 146.083, 172.028, 172.052, 172.059, 172.082, 191.003, 192.031, 192.062, 192.064, 201.052, 201.054, 202.006, and 274.003

Education Code: § 11.055

Senate Bill 1779: Amends Section 203.013 of the Election Code to provide that the order of candidate’s names in a runoff for a special election to fill a vacancy in legislature will be relative to the order of name on the original expedited ballot.

Effective Date: September 1, 2015

Statutes Affected:

Election Code: § 203.013

Joint Resolutions

HJR 73 – “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.”

HJR 75 – “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 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”

SJR 1 – “The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.”

SJR 5 – “The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”

SJR 17 – “The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.”

SJR 22 – “The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”

SJR 52 – “The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.”