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Voter Information

Election Advisory No. 2011-11

To: All Election Officials
From: Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections
Date: June 24, 2011
RE: 2011 Legislative Summary

Below is a brief summary of the major election-related legislation that passed during the 82nd Regular Session. Please note the following:

Bills

House Bill 150 - Relates to Redistricting of the members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill, to be effective for the 2012 Elections

House Bill 174 - Modifies the process for removing deceased voters and persons ineligible to vote due to lack of United States citizenship from voter registration roles. Specifically, it requires each local registrar of deaths to notify the Secretary of State’s office no later than the 10th day of each month of any deceased persons 18 years or older, and requires the clerk of any court with probate jurisdiction to notify the Secretary of State’s office no later than the 10th day of each month of any proceeding resulting from a death. The clerk of each court must send notice of each person disqualified from jury service due to lack of US Citizenship to Secretary of State, and to the county or district attorney, to investigate as to whether the person made a false statement on their voter registration application pursuant to Section 13.007 of the Texas Election Code.

On a quarterly basis, the Secretary of State will compare information the office has received concerning deceased persons and non-citizens against the statewide voter registration list, and must send appropriate notices to county voter registrars of ineligible voters discovered on the list. In addition to comparing against the information submitted by local officials concerning deceased persons, the Secretary of State must also obtain death information quarterly from the United States Social Security Administration and compare against this information as well. If the Secretary of State notifies a county voter registrar of a deceased voter on the voter rolls, the county voter registrar must immediately cancel the voter’s registration.

Lastly, the bill requires that the jury questionnaire form must contain language that informs a person that if they claim a disqualification or an exemption due to lack of US Citizenship, they will no longer be eligible to vote if they fail to provide proof of citizenship.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 (The changes in law made by the Act to Sections 62.0132 and 62.0142, Government Code, apply only to a written summons or questionnaire printed on or after the effective date of this Act.)

Statutes Affected:
Election Code-§§ 16.001 (a)(b) & (d), 16.031(b), 16.0332(a), 18.068
Government Code-§§ 62.0132, 62.0142, 62.113(b) and (c)

House Bill 184 -Requires the Secretary of State to declare an unopposed candidate to fill a vacancy in the legislature elected and issue the certificate of election on the second day after either the filing deadline, or the date on which the election becomes uncontested by death, ineligibility, or withdrawal.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code-§ 2.055

House Bill 360 - Provides that in addition to any prescribed ballot language, (1) a proposition concerning a bond election shall include the total principal dollar amount of bonds that will be authorized and a general description of the purposes for the bonds; (2) a proposition seeking voter approval of the imposition or increase of a tax shall provide the amount of or the maximum tax rate of the tax or tax increase sought; and (3) a proposition seeking voter approval of the reduction of a tax rate must provide the amount of the tax rate reduction or the tax rate sought.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 (The change in law made by this Act applies only to an election ordered on or after the effective date of this Act.)
Statutes Affected: Election Code -§ 52.072

House Bill 600 - Relates to Redistricting of State Board of Education Districts.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill
Statutes Affected:
Education Code - § 7.101(a)

House Bill 1135 - Clarifies that after the filing deadline, a candidate may not amend an application for a place on the ballot or any accompanying petition in lieu of filing fee nor can the filing authority accept an amendment to their application for a place on the ballot or any accompanying petition in lieu of filing fee.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 (but applies only to a candidate application filed after the effective date)
Statutes Affected: Election Code-§§ 141.032, 141.062

House Bill 1136 - Requires the county elections officer to hold a meeting (and to provide 72 hours notice of such meeting) with each county chair representing a party, which made nominations in the most recent primary election, to discuss the party lists for early voting workers, the party lists for the ballot board members, and the overall process relating to the delivery of early voting ballots to the ballot board, ballot by mail procedures of the ballot board, and the manual counting procedures (if any) for early voting ballots for the primary election and general election (as appropriate). The notice can be delivered by regular US postal mail, electronic mail, or any other method of written communication.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 31.124

House Bill 1226 - Clarifies that deferred adjudication does not constitute a final felony conviction for purposes of registering to vote or voting in a Texas election in accordance with Section 11.002 and 13.001 of the Texas Election Code.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 11.002, 13.001

House Bill 1401 - Provides that annexed citizens may vote in a municipal local option liquor election that occurs after their annexation, even if the petition for the election was filed before the annexation. It also provides that the required number of signatures needed on the petition to trigger a local option election is to be calculated based on the number of registered voters in the municipality, including the annexed area, even if the area was not annexed until after the petition was issued or filed.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 501.1035

House Bill 1503 - Requires that a person appointed by a presiding judge to be a special peace officer at a polling place be licensed as a peace officer by the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 32.075(f)

House Bill 1528 - Removes the restriction in a primary election that required a county executive committee to consolidate county election precincts to no fewer than one consolidated precinct within each commissioner precinct.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 42.009

House Bill 1545 - Authorizes a political subdivision other than a county to change its general election date to the November uniform election date not later than December 31, 2012.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect
Statutes Affected: Election Code -§§ 41.0052(a) & (a-1), 41.0053

House Bill 1570 - Requires a regular or volunteer deputy voter registrar to complete a training program before being allowed to register voters, and it requires the Secretary of State to develop training standards and materials for regular deputy and volunteer deputy voter registrars.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 13.031(e), 13.047

House Bill 1593 - Requires the Secretary of State to add a space on the application for a place on the ballot for a candidate to include his/her email address, along with a statement that the email address is optional.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 141.039

House Bill 1678 - Provides a legislative finding that the powers of a county election commission or a joint elections commission extend no further than to the appointment, acceptance of resignation, or recommendation for termination of a county elections administrator or joint elections administrator. Additionally, the bill provides that any meeting of the county elections commission or joint elections commission is open to the public and subject to the notice requirements of Chapter 551 of the Government Code. The bill further requires personal notice to the county elections administrator or joint elections administrator of any meeting of the county election commission or joint elections commission.

Effective Date: Immediate Effective Bill
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 31.033, 31.155

House Bill 1789 - Authorizes a county election officer of a county with a population of 100,000 or more, who conducts a primary election under an election services contract, to request payment directly from the Secretary of State rather than the county chair.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 173.0832

House Bill 1904 - Modifies the filing deadline to file a declaration of write-in candidacy for the office of county chair or precinct chair to no later than 6:00 p.m. of the 5th day after the date of the regular filing deadline for the general primary election.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 171.0231(d)

House Bill 2144 - Exempts a newly incorporated city’s initial election of members of the governing body from the uniform election date requirement. Authorizes such a city to change its general election date for election of its members to another uniform election date within two years of its incorporation. Authorizes a city which was newly-incorporated between January 1, 2007 and September 1, 2011 to move their general election date to another uniform election date not later than September 1, 2012. Requires cities to choose their general election date within the first year of their incorporation.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected:
Election Code - §§ 41.001(b), 41.0052(c) & (d)
Local Government Code - § 21.005

House Bill 2194 - Provides for various changes affecting the elections process.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected:
Election Code - §§ 12.006, 13.008, 13.031(d), 13.036(a), 31.035, 31.124, 32.051(a)-(b), 32.051(e), 32.076, 33.057(c), 43.007(k)-(l), 63.011, 66.0241, 85.031(b), 127.1311, 174.092(a),
Repealed Sections: §§ 63.005, 63.007, 63.008
Government Code - § 573.061

House Bill 2449 - Relates to the criminal offense for the illegal possession of ballots. This bill will allow the prosecutor to look at the total of ballots handled over an aggregate number of days for prosecution purposes as opposed to unlawful possession at a given time. This bill also prohibits the release of a copy of the application for a ballot by mail (except to the voter himself) until the first business day after election day.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 (The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.)
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 86.006, 86.014(a)

House Bill 2477 - The bill would require that when the federal government certifies a Texas county to provide voter materials in additional minority languages, the Secretary of State would be required to provide the translation for the additional minority language(s) for ballot certification (i.e., office titles and ballot instructions) for the November General Election for State and County offices (Sections 142.010, 161.008, 192.033 of the Texas Election Code), and the ballot certification for the ballot propositions for each statewide constitutional amendment elections (Section 274.003). The Secretary of State must also provide such translations for the voter registration applications (Section 13.002), confirmation form (Section 15.051), voter instruction poster (Section 62.011), statement of residence (Section 63.0011), provisional ballot affidavit (Section 63.011), application for a ballot by mail (Section 84.011), carrier envelope and voting instructions (Section 86.013), and any other voter forms that the Secretary of State identifies and for which state resources are otherwise available. Based on the 2010 census, the U.S. Census Bureau will be issuing new minority language certifications in the summer of 2011.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code-§§ 142.010, 161.008, 192.033, 274.003, 272.011

House Bill 2702 - Modifies various statutes (some of which affect elections) to reflect the new census data contained in the 2010 federal census and to update population brackets as necessary so that the statutes using those brackets continue to apply to the political subdivisions to which they were intended. The affected Election Code provisions are: Section 143.005(e) concerning a city with a population of 1.18 million or more; Section 172.021 concerning petitions required for judicial office; and Section 172.024 concerning filing fees.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Various, but including Election Code - § 143.005(e), 172.021, 172.024;
Education Code - §§ 11.0581(a), 130,082(i)

House Bill 2817 - Below are highlights of the bill:

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected:
Election Code - §§ 4.004(a), 13.031(d), 18.064, 18.065(a), 18.068, 19.002(d), 31.006, 31.092(b), 31.093(a), 32.002(c), 33.006(b), 33.051(c), 66.058, 84.007(b), 85.004, 85.032(b)(d) & (f), 87.021, 87.0211, 87.0221(a), 87.023(a), 87.027, 87.126, 101.013, 112.002(a), 127.007, 127.201, 129.023(c), 141.040, 145.001, 145.005, 145.092(a) & (d), 145.094(a) & (d), 172.052(a), 172.057, 174.022(a)(b)&(c), 174.023, 213.013(i), 216.002, 232.008(c), 253.167, 501.001(4), 501.023(a), 501.108(a)
Repealed: §§18.041, 18.042, and 145.092(c).

House Bill 2920 - Authorizes the city council of a Type C city with a population of over 10,000 to adopt an ordinance to determine whether to stagger the election of its officers or have the entire city council up for election in the same election year.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Local Government Code - § 24.023

House Bill 2959 - Creates a Class C misdemeanor offense if a former county chair of a political party does not transfer certain records to a new county chair within 30 days after the new term of office begins.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 171.028(c) & (d)

House Bill 3270 - Requires the names of candidates for political party offices to be added to the list of candidates prepared by the state chair and county chairs for the general primary election.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011
Statutes Affected: Election Code - § 172.029(a)

Senate Bill 14 - Creates a new photo voter identification requirement that will be required for voter qualification in all elections in Texas beginning January 1, 2012. The new law requires that all voters must present one of the following forms of photo identification in order to be eligible to be accepted for voting:

The above identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before it is presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

There are several exceptions to the photo voter identification requirement. Voters with a disability who desire an exemption from the photo identification requirement may apply with the county voter registrar for an exemption. Our office will be prescribing the exemption request form and pursuant to Senate Bill 14, the exemption application must contain written documentation from the U.S. Social Security Administration evidencing the applicant’s disability or from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing a disability rating of at least 50 percent. In addition, the applicant must state that he or she has no form of photo identification as listed above. Voters who have obtained a disability exemption will be allowed to vote by presenting their voter registration certificate, which must reflect the exemption on the face of the certificate.

Other exemptions include voters who have had a consistent religious objection to being photographed and voters who do not have any photo identification as a result of certain natural disasters as declared by the president of the United States or the Texas governor that occurred not earlier than 45 days from the day the ballot was cast. These voters may vote provisionally at the polls and then must sign an affidavit attesting to those facts in the presence of the county voter registrar within six days of the date of the election. Finally, the new law creates a “cure period” for a voter who does not qualify for an exemption and votes a provisional ballot due to the fact that the voter did not present a valid form of photo identification at the polls. A person who votes provisionally due to failure to present photo identification has up to six days after the election to present him/herself to the county voter registrar and present appropriate photo identification. If the provisional voter presents the photo identification to the county voter registrar within the six-day period and meets all other requirements, then the provisional ballot must be accepted.

Additional information about Senate Bill 14 may be found in Advisory 2011-10 and additional information will posted to the Secretary of State’s website as new information becomes available.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 for several requirements placed upon election officials, but as far as impact on voters, the effective date will be January 1, 2012
Statutes Affected:
Election Code - §§ 13.002(i), 15.001(c), 15.005, 15.022(a), 31.012, 32.111(c), 32.114(a), 62.016, 63.001, 63.0011(a), 63.0012, 63.006, 63.009, 63.0101, 63.011, 64.012(b), 65.054(b), 65.0541, 66.0241, 63.007
Transportation Code - § 521A.001

Senate Bill 31- Relates to Redistricting of the members of the Texas Senate.
Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill, to be effective for the 2012 Elections

Senate Bill 100 - As required by MOVE, Senate Bill 100 facilitates the voting process for military and overseas voters who frequently encounter obstacles and time delays with the standard vote by mail process. Senate Bill 100 requires that ballots be mailed or emailed to military and overseas voters no later than the 45th day before the election, and this requirement applies to (1) all elections in which a federal office appears on the ballot; (2) elections to fill a vacancy in the legislature, unless the election is an emergency or expedited election; or (3) an election held jointly with an election described by (1) or (2) above. In addition, SB 100 provides that a Federal Postcard Application is effective for a single calendar year instead of the previous effective period of two federal general elections.

Although SB 100 applies to only the elections described above, the mandate to mail ballots 45 days before an election has had a significant impact on the election calendar. For example, under prior law, the federal deadline to mail a ballot for the primary runoff election would occur before the general primary election date had even occurred. Accordingly, the Legislature has adjusted the election calendar and the dates and deadlines surrounding elections. The primary elections will continue to occur on the first Tuesday in March, but the runoff primary election is moved from the second Tuesday in April to the fourth Tuesday in May.

The May uniform election date is also affected by SB 100. Because the May uniform date falls between the March primary and the May runoff, (early voting for the runoff primary begins two days after the May uniform election day), SB 100 limits the May uniform election date in even-numbered years to only non-county elections and county election officials are not required to contract to conduct elections in May even-numbered years. The May uniform election date in odd-numbered years is unaffected. The deadlines to order elections and the deadline to file an application for place on the ballot have also been adjusted.

Additional information on SB 100 may be found in Advisory 2011-09 and additional information will be posted to the Secretary of State’s website as the information becomes available.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011, with various individual sections having different effective dates
Statutes Affected:
Election Code §§ 2.025, 3.005(c), 41.001, 41.0052, 41.007(b), 65.051(c), 86.004(b), 86.011(b), 87.0223, 87.041(f), 87.043, 87.0431, 87.044(a), 101.001-101.013, 101.052-101.058, 105.003, 142.010(b), 143.007(c), 144.005(d), 144.006(b), 145.037, 145.038(b), 145.092(f), 145.094(a), 145.096(a), 146.025(a)-(b), 146.029(c), 146.054(b), 161.008(b), 172.023(a), 171.0231(d), 172.028(b), 172.052(a), 172.054(a)-(b), 172.057, 172.058(a), 172.059(a), 172.082(c), 192.033(b), 201.051(b), 201.054(f), 501.109,
Education Code §§ 11.055, 11.056(b), 11.059(e), 130.0825(b)
Health & Safety Code - § 285.131(d)
Local Government Code - § 21.004
Water Code - § 63.0945(d)
Repealed:
Election Code - § 41.0053;
Education Code §§ 11.056(e), 130.0825(e);
Health & Safety Code § 285.131(g);
Water Code § 63.0945(f)

Senate Bill 729 - Amends Section 11.0581(a), Education Code to allow independent school districts to comply with the joint election mandate by authorizing a joint election with an election for the members of the governing board of a public junior college district in which the school district is wholly or partly located.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill
Statutes Affected: Education Code - § 11.0581

Senate Bill 1046 - Requires the Secretary of State’s Office to obtain on a quarterly basis a list from the Social Security Administration containing the deceased residents of the State and compare the information to the state database of registered voters. If the state determines a match was found to a voter record, the state forwards the information to the county voter registrar office for an immediate cancellation.

Effective Date: Immediate Effect Bill
Statutes Affected: Election Code - §§ 16.001(d), 16.031(b)

Senate Bill 1226 - Requires that a ballot for a junior college district annexation election include language regarding the district's taxing authority and current property tax rate. The bill further requires that the ballot language for a junior college annexation election identify the name of the junior college district attempting to annex territory.

Effective Date: September 1, 2011 (The change in law made by this Act applies only to the ballot for an election ordered to be held on or after the effective date of this Act.
Statutes Affected: Education Code - § 130.065(g)

Joint Resolutions

HJR 63
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates."

HJR 109
"The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund."

SJR 4
"The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding."

SJR 9
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision."

SJR 14
"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."

SJR 16
"The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity."

SJR 26
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund."

SJR 28
"The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities."

SJR 37
"The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office."

SJR 50
"The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students."