Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Voting Accessibility Issue

To:  All Elections Officials
From:  Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date:  December 3, 2012
RE:   Voting Accessibility Issue

As a general rule, a county or a political subdivision must provide one accessible voting machine in each early voting and election day polling place.  Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 61.012(a)(1)(C).  However, for all elections in which a federal office is not on the ballot, a county or a political subdivision located within a county with a population described below may be able to obtain an exception from the general requirement of providing one accessible voting machine in each polling place. Id. § 61.013. (See Note on notice to Secretary of State and publication requirement on page 2 of this memo)

NOTE:  Population is determined by the most recent (2010) Federal Census numbers.

  1. Counties with a population of less than 2,000 are exempt from the requirement of providing accessible electronic voting systems. Political subdivisions located in a county with a population of less than 2,000 are exempt from the requirement of providing accessible electronic voting systems. (See Note on notice to Secretary of State on page 2 of this memo.)

    However, a voter with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation by the 21st day before election day with the early voting clerk. A reasonable accommodation may include providing an audio tape of the ballot for the voter or a template which lays over the ballot and allows a voter with visual impairment to vote independently and in privacy.
  2. Counties with a population of 2,000 or more but less than 5,000 must provide at least one accessible electronic voting system on election day. Political subdivisions located in a county with a population of 2,000 or more but less than 5,000 must provide at least one accessible electronic voting system on election day. (See Note on notice to Secretary of State and publication requirement on page 2 of this memo.)
  3. Counties with a population of 5,000 or more but less than 10,000 must provide at least one accessible electronic voting system on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance. Political subdivisions located in a county with a population of 5,000 or more but less than 10,000 must provide at least one electronic voting system on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance. The logical location would be the main early voting clerk’s office on election day and the main early voting polling place during early voting. (See Note on notice to Secretary of State and publication requirement on page 2 of this memo.)
  4. Counties with a population of 10,000 or more but less than 20,000 may provide fewer accessible voting stations (than one per early voting and election day polling place) if they comply with the requirements set out below. Political subdivisions located in a county with a population of 10,000 or more but less than 20,000 may provide fewer accessible voting stations if they comply with the following:

    • Submit an Application of Undue Burden Status to the Secretary of State showing that compliance with Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) would cause an undue burden on the political subdivision by increasing the costs associated with the election by at least 25% as compared to the costs of the last general election held by the subdivision before January 1, 2006.
    • An application must be submitted to our office no later than the 90th day before the date of the election for which the subdivision seeks relief.
    • If the application is approved, the entity will provide:
      • At least one accessible electronic voting system on election day and during the period of early voting by personal appearance; and
      • If the subdivision has branch early voting locations, one mobile accessible electronic voting system to be deployed at least once to each branch early voting polling place.
    • A county or political subdivision is required to submit an Application for Undue Burden Status only if it falls under category #4.

If your political subdivision is located in more than one county and you fall into one of the 4 categories above, you may choose to be considered located in the county that contains the greatest number of registered voters of your subdivision or for each portion of your subdivision located in a different county, to be considered as a separate subdivision.

NOTE:  All political subdivisions desiring to reduce the number of electronic accessible voting systems must:

  1. file a written notice with our office stating which exemption they seek to utilize or submit an Application of Undue Burden Status to our office no later than 90 days prior to election day;
  2. publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation not later than the 15th day before the start of early voting by personal appearance of the location of each polling place that will contain the electronic voting system (if applicable); and
  3. preclear such change with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Our office has created the Application of Undue Burden Status (PDF), a sample Notice of Exemption (PDF), and instructions for counties and other political subdivisions which can be accessed on our website or by contacting our office for a copy. Please note that if your entity falls under the applicable provisions for this reduction or will be taking advantage of the exemption (less than 2,000 in population), the deadline to submit an application (or notice of exemption or reduction) is the 90th day before Election Day. You are not required to use the form prescribed by our office. For more information, please contact the Elections Division at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683).

KI:CG:id