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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Joint Elections and Polling Places FAQs

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: October 13, 2014
RE: All Election Officials

Background

We continue to receive many questions about the election-related effects of House Bill 1 (2006), especially as to the joint election requirements in elections held on the November uniform election date in even-numbered years and the selection of polling places. We have compiled the following list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to assist in the implementation of joint elections in upcoming elections.

Political subdivisions holding elections on the November uniform election date in even-numbered years have several options in determining how to hold their elections. It is important to note that political subdivisions holding an election the November uniform election date in even-numbered years must designate their polling place for the election at the regular county polling places in the county election precincts, unless  the political subdivision is holding an election that is created under Section 52, Article III, or Section 59, Article XVI, Texas Constitution and is located in a county with a population of more than 3.3 million or a county adjacent to a county with a population of more than 3.3 million. 

Political subdivisions may elect to hold joint elections or contract for election services. Please be advised that some political subdivisions are required to hold joint elections.  The following FAQs review the scenario of political subdivisions that are required to hold joint elections with their county as well as political subdivision that choose to have joint (common) polling places with their county.

Which specific political subdivisions are required to hold joint elections?

Independent school districts and any school districts subject to the election law of independent school districts conducting trustee elections must have joint polling places on election day with the county on the November uniform election day in even-numbered years.

How can the political subdivision meet the requirements of holding a joint election?

The joint election requirement can be met by executing a joint election agreement. It is the opinion of the Secretary of State that a political subdivision may meet the joint election requirement through establishing joint (common) polling places with the county.

Joint Election Agreement

Q: What is a joint election agreement?

A: A joint election agreement can be executed when two or more political subdivisions are authorized to enter into an agreement. The political subdivisions can execute an agreement to hold a joint election if their elections (a) are ordered to be held on the same day, and (b) will be located in all or part of the same county. 

Q: When drafting the joint election agreement, who determines the polling place locations?

A: Generally, the governing bodies of the political subdivisions should decide the location of the polling places as part of the joint election agreement. Please note that for a November election, the county will determine the polling places, and other political subdivisions must use the polling places to the extent they have overlapping territory.

Q: If we have a joint election agreement, are we required to have common polling places at every county polling place on Election Day?

A: Yes. Section 43.004 requires that if a political subdivision holds an election on the November uniform election date and is required to use the regular county election precincts, the political subdivision shall designate the regular county polling places in which the territories overlap. Please note, when drafting your agreement, Section 271.003 allows entities with joint election agreements to have a common polling place outside election precincts and political subdivision boundaries if the polling place can adequately and conveniently serve the voters.

Q: Our political subdivision has decided to execute a joint election agreement with a county participating in the countywide polling place program. Must we have common polling places at every countywide polling place location on Election Day?

A: Yes.  Political subdivisions in participating counties would need to have a presence at each of the countywide polling places. For more information on the countywide polling place program, see Texas Secretary of State Countywide Polling Place Program FAQs,[link].

Q: In drafting our joint election agreement, we’ve decided to have common polling places on Election Day; do we also have to have common polling places during the early voting period?

A: No. Pursuant to Section 85.010, if a political subdivision has executed a joint election agreement pursuant to Chapter 271 or an election services contract, the political subdivision is not required to have joint (common) early voting polling places. 

Joint (Common) Polling Places

Q: We’ve decided not to execute a joint election agreement, how can our political subdivision comply with the joint election requirement?

A: In order to comply with the joint election requirement, the political subdivision must have joint (common) polling places. For independent school districts, seeking to comply with Section 11.0581, would be in compliance by sharing polling places with the county.

Q: What if we are not required to hold a joint election, can we choose to share polling places or execute an election services contract?

A: Yes, the political subdivision can choose to either share polling places or execute an election services contract with their county.

Q: Since we are not executing a joint election agreement, do we have to have common polling places at every location on Election Day?

A: Yes, Section 43.004 requires that if a political subdivision holds an election on the November uniform election date and is required to use the regular county election precincts, the political subdivision shall designate the regular county polling places in which the territories overlap.

Q: For the November General Election, who is required to use the regular county election precincts?

A: Every political subdivision that holds an election on the November uniform election day, shall use the regular county election precincts, unless the political subdivision is holding an election that is created under Section 52, Article III, or Section 59, Article XVI, Texas Constitution and is located in a county with a population of more than 3.3 million or a county adjacent to a county with a population of more than 3.3 million.

Q: We’ve decided to have joint (common) polling places with a county that is participating in the countywide polling place program.  Are we required to share every countywide polling place?

A: Yes, if you are political subdivision holding an election on a November uniform election date in an even-numbered year. Political subdivisions in participating counties would need to have a presence at each of the countywide polling places. For more information on the countywide polling place program, see Texas Secretary of State Countywide Polling Place Program FAQs, [link].

Q: If we have joint (common) polling places on Election Day and have not executed a joint election agreement, does this mean we must also have to have joint (common) polling places during the early voting period?

A: Yes. Pursuant to Section 85.010 (House Bill 506 (2013)), a political subdivision that has not executed either a joint election agreement or an election services contract must designate a main early voting polling place that is established by the county and within the territory of the political subdivision.

Q: What are the dates and hours early voting by personal appearance should be conducted at the joint (common) polling place established under Section 85.010?

A: Early voting by personal appearance begins on the 17th day before election day and continues through the 4th day before election day, unless otherwise provided in Section 85.001. Per Section 85.010(c), it is required that the designated main early voting polling place must be open for voting for all political subdivisions the polling place serves for at least the days and hours required of a main early voting polling place. For more information on early voting hours, see Secretary of State Election Advisory No. 2014-12, November 4, 2014 Election Law Calendar.

If you need more information or have any further questions, please contact our office toll-free at 1-800-252-2216.

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