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Election Advisory No. 2023-23

To: All Election Officials
From: Christina Worrell Adkins, Director of Elections
Christina Adkins signature
Date: November 17, 2023
RE: Registering a Voter who is Part of a Confidentiality Program

Background

The purpose of this advisory is to explain the different types of voter registration confidentiality programs that are available to certain voters and provide answers to frequently asked questions.

All statutory references in this advisory are to the Texas Election Code (“the Code”), unless otherwise indicated.

Public Information and Confidentiality

For specific information on public information requests as it relates to the various confidentiality programs described in this advisory, please refer to our Elections Public Information Law Outline and consult with your county public information officer. You may also direct any questions about the procedures for responding to a public information request, including the timeframes for such responses, to the Office of the Attorney General via its Open Government Hotline, (877) OPEN TEX (673-6839).

Information that is Confidential for all Voters

A voter’s social security number, Texas driver’s license number, number of a personal identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety and voter source code are confidential under state and federal law. (Section 13.004, Election Code and the National Voter Registration Act (PDF)). The registrar must ensure that this information is excluded from disclosure, except that the voter registrar shall forward to the county chair of each county executive committee the information necessary to contact applicants who indicate interest in working as an election judge. (Section 13.004(c-1), Election Code).

The voter registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application, but may transcribe, copy or otherwise record a social security number furnished on a registration application only in maintaining the accuracy of registration records. (Section 13.004(a) and (b), Election Code).

Information that Cannot be Posted on a Website

The voter registrar or other county official who has access to the information furnished on a registration application may not post a telephone number, a social security number, a driver’s license number, a number of a personal identification card, or a date of birth of a voter on a website. (Section 13.004(d), Election Code). Similarly, a voter registrar or other county official may not post the residence address of a voter who submits documentation under Section 13.004(c)(4), (5), (6), or (7) of the Code to the voter registrar or regarding whom the registrar has received notification under Section 15.0215 of the Code.

Information that can be Suppressed from the County’s Website

All voters can request that their information be suppressed from the county’s website. While a voter’s information will still remain subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act, that information will not be posted on the county’s website. Voters should contact their local county voter registrar if they are interested in web suppression of voter information.

Dates of Birth

Date of birth is confidential for all voters, unless the request is for a list of voters with voter information under Chapter 18 of the Election Code. Paxton v. City of Dallas, 2015 WL 3394061 (Tex. App.—Austin May 22, 2015, pet. denied) (mem. op.). Section 18.005, Election Code provides that date of birth must be contained on the original and supplemental list of registered voters. Therefore, when providing a list of voters pursuant to Chapter 18 of the Texas Election Code, date of birth may be released.

For example, if a person requests an individual’s voter registration information, the voter’s date of birth would be confidential. However, if a person asked for a list of all registered voters, then the date of birth for all registered voters would not be redacted.

Different Types of Confidentiality Programs

  1. Alternate Address Program through the Department of Public Safety (DPS)

    The Alternate Address Program allows qualifying individuals to use an alternate address on their driver’s license or ID card in lieu of their actual residential address. These voters are allowed under law to designate their work (business) address, instead of their residence address, on their voter registration certificate if they choose. (Sections 521.121, 521.1211, Texas Transportation Code).

NOTE: If an applicant chooses to apply for this type of confidentiality, they should be informed that they will be eligible to vote only in the precinct where the alternate address is located, which is often not in the same precinct as the applicant’s residential address.

  1. Confidentiality for Peace Officers and Other Government Personnel (Section 552.1175, Government Code)

    This program allows qualifying individuals, as defined by Section 552.1175 of the Government Code, to have their voter registration information suppressed. These voters will be registered to vote at their residence address, but that information will be withheld from public disclosure. Section 552.1175 was amended by Senate Bill 870 (88th Leg., R.S., effective September 1, 2023) and House Bill 4504 (88th Leg., R.S., effective January 1, 2025).

    Who is eligible?

NOTE: As a result of House Bill 4504, effective January 1, 2025, references to Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure will change to Article 2A.001, Code of Criminal Procedure. Similarly, references to Article 2.122, Code of Criminal Procedure will change to Article 2A.002, Code of Criminal Procedure.

  1. Confidentiality Affidavit (Section 13.004(c)(4), Election Code)

    Judges and other qualified individuals may apply for confidentiality through the Alternate Address  Program;  under  Section  552.1175,  Government  Code;  or  through the Confidentiality Affidavit for Voter Registration Under Texas Election Code per Section 13.004(c), Election Code.

    Who is eligible?

  1. Address Confidentiality (Section 15.0215, Election Code)

    A voter registrar must omit from the registration list the residence address of a judge or official and any family members of the judge or official if the registrar receives notice from the Office of Court Administration of the person’s qualification for office as a federal or state judge or a federal official. Additionally, the registrar must prepare a memorandum of the notice received from OCA which indicates the substance and date of the notice. The memorandum must be kept on file with the individual’s voter registration application.

    Who is eligible?

  1. Confidentiality for Victims of Certain Crimes (Section 13.004(c)(5)-(7), Election Code)

    Who is eligible?

  1. The Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program

    The Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program provides a substitute post office box address and mail forwarding service for certain victims of family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking, or child abduction. All mail goes through this substitute post office box to ensure confidentiality to participants in this program.

    Who is eligible?

NOTE: The early voting clerk is responsible for providing ballots to the protected applicant for any election conducted by the county. In order to receive a ballot for an election conducted by a local political subdivision other than a county, the protected applicant must appear in person at the office of the local political subdivision’s early voting clerk and submit a Confidential Voter Registration Form and Early Voting Ballot Application. (Section 81.38(e), Title 1, Texas Administrative Code).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I received a voter registration application from DPS and the person is part of the Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program using their P.O. Box. Do I register them?

    No. The person is only considered temporarily registered for purposes of each election and is not entered into the voter registration system. If you receive an application from DPS, you would send the applicant a Notice of Incomplete Information on Voter Registration Application. The notice would state that the person would need to come in person to register. You may also send them the prescribed Confidential Voter Registration Form and Early Voting Ballot Application that would serve as a voter registration application and application for ballot by mail. Procedures under Section 13.073, Election Code would apply to the notice of incomplete. If the voter appears in person with a completed Confidential Voter Registration Form and Early Voting Ballot Application, the early voting clerk retains all voter information in that form. However, that form does not contain the actual residential address of the applicant, and the form itself is confidential as a matter of law and not subject to public disclosure under the Public Information Act. (Section 81.38(h), Title 1, Texas Administrative Code).

    If a voter in the Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program still has a previous active voter registration, the early voting clerk should inform the voter that they should cancel their registration for that county. In addition, any cancelled registration may still be considered public information for two years following the cancellation. We recommend that the early voting clerk provide a Request for Voter Registration Residential Address Confidentiality to a voter under this program when they cancel their current registration, because this form will serve to make confidential any information in their cancelled voter registration. If a public information request is submitted for canceled voters, these voter addresses would be suppressed under Section 13.004 of the Code, but their names would appear on the list of canceled voters. The early voting clerk should then notify the Secretary of State at elections@sos.texas.gov that the voter’s cancelled registration is confidential under Section 13.004.

  2. I received a voter registration application from DPS using the Alternate Address Program. Should I send the voter a notice informing them about the program and its effect on their voter registration application?

    You may, but are not required to, send a letter informing the voter of the Alternate Address Program and its effect on their voter registration application. You may include in the letter that the Alternate Address Program will only allow a voter to vote in elections in which the alternate address is located. The voter would only be allowed to vote at the alternate address, not at their residential address. You may inform the voter that if they choose to use the Section 552.1175, Government Code confidentiality program or the Confidentiality Affidavit for Voter Registration instead of the Alternate Address Program, this would only affect their voter registration and not their driver’s license and that they may vote in elections in which they reside with their address being suppressed. You may also include the following SOS prescribed forms: Request for Voter Registration Residential Address Confidentiality or the Confidentiality Affidavit for Voter Registration Under Texas Election Code.

  3. May a federal or state judge defined under Section 1.005, Election Code qualify under multiple ways for confidentiality?

    Yes, a federal or state judge or spouse may qualify for confidentiality in several ways.

    First, a person may qualify through the Office of Court Administration. Once elected as a judge, the Secretary of State will send that information to OCA, which will contact the newly elected judge informing them of voter confidentiality and send paperwork to be completed. Once OCA receives the completed paperwork, OCA will send the paperwork to the appropriate county, informing the county that the voter qualifies for confidentiality.

    Second, a person may qualify by completing the Confidentiality Affidavit for Voter Registration Under Texas Election Code form pursuant to Section 13.004(c)(5), Election Code. Only a judge or spouse of a judge may complete this form. An applicant will need to complete the form and have that form signed by a notary. A spouse of a judge does not need to show proof of marriage.

    Third, a federal or state judge may qualify by completing the Request for Voter Registration Confidentiality Under Texas Government Code form pursuant to Section 552.1175, Government Code. The applicant would need to provide proof they are a judge or spouse of a judge.

  4. Do the confidentiality forms under Section 13.004, Election Code and Section 552.1175, Government Code serve as a voter registration application?

    No.  Unlike  the  Alternate  Address  Program  and  the  Attorney  General  Address Confidentiality Program, a person who qualifies for confidentiality under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code must be a registered voter before they can complete the Confidentiality Affidavit for Voter Registration Under Texas Election Code, Request for Voter Registration Confidentiality Under Texas Government Code, or Request for Voter Registration Residential Address Confidentiality forms. If a voter is concerned that their information will be disclosed while waiting for their registration to become effective, the voter may submit their voter registration application simultaneously with their confidentiality form.

  5. How should a voter’s information appear on the Early Voting Roster?

    This depends on the type of confidentiality used by the voter.

  • For a person using the Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program, they would not appear on the list.
  • For a person using the Alternate Address Program, their name and alternate address would be on the list, but that address would be their business address, not the voter’s actual residential address.
  • For a person using confidentiality under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code, the voter’s name should appear on the list and there should be an asterisk (***) in place of their address.
  1. How should a voter’s registration appear on the original list of registered voters?

    This also will depend on the type of confidentiality used by the voter.

    • For a person using the Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program, they would not appear on the list.
    • For a person using the Alternate Address Program, their name and alternate address would be on the list, but that address would be their business address, not the voter’s actual residential address.
    • For a person using confidentiality under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code, the voter’s name should appear on the list and there should be an asterisk (***) in place of their address.
  2. Is a voter allowed to use more than one method of confidentiality for voter registration?

    No. For voter registration purposes only, if a person qualifies for confidentiality in multiple ways, the person must choose one method. For example, a judge could not use the Alternate Address Program and suppress their address under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code. However, the voter could use the alternate address for their driver’s license (with DPS) and apply for confidentiality under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code for voter registration purposes.

  3. Does confidentiality transfer from one county to another if the voter moves?

    Yes, the confidentiality would transfer to the new county. However, a voter registrar may require proof from the voter that they qualify under Section 13.004, Election Code or Section 552.1175, Government Code. If a peace officer is using the Alternate Address Program and their occupation, marriage status, or residence changes, they must update their information with DPS within 30 days of the change under Section 521.1211, Transportation Code.

  4. How long does the voter’s confidentiality last?

    This depends on the type of confidentiality. For the Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program, the person is entitled to receive a ballot for three years after submitting the Confidential Voter Registration Form and Early Voting Ballot Application for all county or county-contracted elections, or until your office receives notice that the voter no longer qualifies under the program or their ballot by mail has been returned as undeliverable, whichever occurs first. For the Alternate Address Program, the person may use this address as long as the person qualifies under the program. For confidentiality under Section 13.004, Election Code and Section 552.1175, Government Code, the person may have their address and other information suppressed as long as the person qualifies under the program. However, if a voter moves to another county, the voter registrar may request proof from the voter that they still qualify under this program.

  5. How does the voter registrar indicate (in TEAM) that voter registration information is considered confidential?

    This depends on the type of confidentiality used by the voter.

    • Alternate Address Program – You do not need to include anything in TEAM, as the voter’s address will be a designated alternate address at their place of work instead of their actual residential address.
    • Attorney General Address Confidentiality Program – You would not indicate this in TEAM as the voter should not be registered to vote. That information will be kept on the Confidential Roster of Protected Applicants. Please note that a Restrict Public Access designation can also be set for a voter’s previous or cancelled voter registration record.
    • Section 13.004, Election Code and Section 552.1175, Government Code – Once you have the appropriate paperwork or notification, then you will designate the voter record as Restrict Public Access, which by default also sets Website Suppression (meaning the person will not be able to locate their information through the “Am I Registered?” website). Offline counties complete this through Voter Import. Online Counties complete this through the Attributes portion of the Change Voter Screen. Any person designated as Restrict Public Access will have asterisks (***) appear in lieu of their address on all reports requested for use for public purposes (Do Not Show Restricted).
  1. Does a spouse need to show proof of marriage under Section 13.004, Election Code and Section 552.1175, Government Code?

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