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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Election Procedures and Information Following Texas Wildfires

TO: Voter Registrars, County Clerks, and Elections Administrators
FROM: Ann McGeehan, Director of Elections
DATE: September 26, 2011
RE: Election Procedures and Information Following Texas Wildfires

The Secretary of State and her staff would like to extend their sympathy to all Texans affected by wildfires around the state. As emergency relief efforts continue, we would also like to provide information with regards to the upcoming November 8, 2011 constitutional amendment election.

We realize that evacuation is a difficult experience and that voters may not be certain of their short-term or long-term living arrangements. However, certain basic procedures still apply. Voters who have been displaced have several options for voting in the November 8, 2011 election.

Voter Registration and Residence. Regarding residence, our advice to people displaced by the wildfires is the same as to any other person—the voter is the one who decides what the voter considers to be home. If a voter relocated to another county before or after the wildfires, and has decided to stay in their new county, they may register to vote in their new county. Voters in this situation must submit a new voter registration application in their new county of residence no later than October 11, 2011 in order to vote in the November election. However, if a person has been relocated and is unsure when they can return to their home county, but intends to return, then that person can maintain their voter registration in their home county (or apply to register if not already registered).

Voter Identification. The new photo identification requirements do not apply until 2012, once preclearance has been obtained. You may also receive questions from voters who lost documents in the fire. When voting in person during the November 8, 2011 election, a voter must show either the voter registration certificate or a form of authorized identification (I.D.). Voter registrars should prepare for requests for replacement certificates (if voters do not have another form of I.D. by the time they vote).

If a voter is able to return to their home, they will likely vote as usual in their county. The counties hardest hit by the wildfires are still evaluating the state of their polling places, and there will likely be changes in voting locations, but it appears that all counties will be able to conduct voting during early voting and election day. It may be a few more weeks before final polling places will be ascertained. In local notices, counties may wish to emphasize early voting by personal appearance, especially if voters have relocated to temporary quarters within the same county, but away from their usual neighborhood.

A voter away from their county of residence may apply for a ballot by mail from their home county. Voters wishing to vote by mail must submit an application for ballot by mail to their county election office; the application must be received no later than Tuesday, November 1, 2011. On the application, the voter must indicate that they will be out of their home county during early voting and on election day. Voters need to provide a mailing address for the ballot which is outside of their home county.

Our office will continue to work with local election officials to ensure that all Texas voters are able to participate in a fair, credible, and efficient election. Voters with specific questions may contact the Elections Division, toll-free at (800) 252-VOTE (8683) or visit our website for updated information.