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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Exemptions to Voting System Accessibility Requirements

To: All Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: July 31, 2014
RE: Exemptions to Voting System Accessibility Requirements

As a general rule, a county or a political subdivision must provide at least 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.

Note that the exemptions are not available to a county when a federal office appears on the ballot or to a political subdivision when the election of the political subdivision is held jointly with an election in which a federal office appears on the ballot.

Notice and Publication Requirement:

  1. All political subdivisions desiring to reduce the number of electronic accessible voting systems must file a written notice with our office stating which exemption they seek to utilize (or, if seeking exemption No. 4, submit an Application of Undue Burden Status) to our office no later than 90 days prior to election day.  See “Possible Exemptions,” below, for the list of exemptions that may be claimed.
    The 90th day before the November 4, 2014 uniform election date is Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
    Our office has created a sample Notice of Exemption, Application of Undue Burden Status, (PDF) and instructions for counties and other political subdivisions which can be accessed on our website or by contacting our office for a copy.  You are not required to use the form prescribed by our office.  
  2. Not later than Sunday, October 5, 2014 (the 15th day before the start of early voting by personal appearance), all counties or political subdivisions using exemption No. 2, 3, or 4 must publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation of the location of each early voting and election day polling place that will contain an electronic voting system.

Possible Exemptions:

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.
    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, preferably at the early voting clerk’s office.
  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 during the period for early voting by personal appearance and on election day.   We suggest that the accessible system be located at the main early voting site during early voting and at the early voting clerk’s office on election day.
  4. Counties with a population of 10,000 or more but less than 20,000 (or political subdivisions located in such a county) may provide fewer accessible voting stations (than one in every early voting and election day polling place) if they comply with the requirements set out below.

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 either 1) as being located in the county that contains the greatest number of registered voters of your subdivision; or 2) for each portion of your subdivision located in a different county to be considered as a separate subdivision.

Note for Water Districts

If you are a water district claiming an exemption under Section 49.111 of the Texas Water Code, as amended by SB 902 (83rd Legislative Session, RS, 2013), please contact our office if you need guidance on that process.

For more information, please contact the Elections Division at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683).

KI:CG