OSU Navigation Bar

Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz


2008 Key Questions for Key States

Texas

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Texas can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Republican appointee

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. V.T.C.A. § 31.001.

Method of selection: Appointed by the governor. Const. Art. IV, § 21.

Current officer: Phil Wilson. ‘One of our most important rights’, San Antonio Express-News, September 30, 2007. Appointed by Rick Perry (R). (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

R heavy/elected

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. V., § 2. Unexpired terms are filled by gubernatorial appointment. Const. Art. V, § 28.

Justices: Wallace B. Jefferson (R), Harriet O’Neill (R), Nathan L. Hecht (R), Don R. Willett (R), Paul W. Green (R), Scott A. Brister (R), Dale Wainwright (R), David Medina (R), Phil Johnson (R) (Last updated 12/22/07)

Sources:

  • DeLay Case Turns Spotlight on Texas Judicial System, New York Times, November 8, 2005.
  • The Domino Effect, Dallas Morning News, May 29, 2005.
  • Money offers peek into Perry’s plans, Houston Chronicle, July 23, 2007.
  • Hitting the Bottlers, Texas Observer, May 4, 2007.

Voter Registration

HAVA matching standards

N/A - currently this state does not match

Texas does not match.

Updated 11/4/08

Challenges

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Provisional Ballots

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Polling Place Operations

Polling hours extension

Unclear

The polls "shall be opened at 7 a.m. for voting and shall be closed at 7 p.m." VTCA, Election Code § 41.031. Permitting voters to cast ballots after the close of polls will not vitiate an election unless it is shown that the late voting materially affected the result. Kempen v. Bruns, 195 S.W. 643, 646 (Tex.Civ.App., 1917)(overruled on other grounds in Sweeny Hospital Dist. v. Carr, 378 S.W.2d 40, 43 (Tex., 1964).

"A voter who has not voted before the time for closing the polls is entitled to vote after that time if the voter is inside or waiting to enter the polling place at 7 p.m."  VTCA, Election Code § 41.032.

Polling place closing times - local times

7:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

9:00 PM Eastern time

Most polls in Texas close at 8:00 PM Eastern time.  Only a small portion of the state is in the Mountain time zone.

Ballot Security

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Emergency Preparedness

EL@M did not research this topic for Texas

Post-Election Processes

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots

Unclear

Voters must sign ballot applications before voting, but no information was found regarding whether failure to do so makes the resulting ballots ineligible to be counted. § 63.002-63.003. If unverified ballots are ineligible to be counted but are commingled with eligible ballots and cannot be separated, it is not clear what a court would do. No case or statute was found considering the issue.  

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Unclear

Provisional voters must execute and sign an affidavit before voting. 1 TX ADC § 81.172 et seq. The affidavit states that the voter is registered and eligible in the jurisdiction and requires “information necessary to register the Voter, if he proves to be unregistered.” Id. Presumably this would include at least the voter’s name, address, and date of birth, and might include further information. Voters who do not provide this information are not eligible to cast a provisional ballot. Id.

Where the voter provides complete but incorrect information, the fate of the provisional ballot is unclear. The law states that the ballot will be counted if officials determine that, based on the affidavit and public records, the person is eligible to vote in the election. §65.054. Presumably voter error would not invalidate a ballot where officials were still able to determine that the voter was eligible. However, where errors make that determination impossible or difficult to do with certainty, officials might decide not to count the ballot. The law does not give explicit guidance to officials confronted by this gray area.

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Other

The governor has exclusive jurisdiction of a contest of the election of presidential electors. Tex. Elec. Code § 221.002; see also Tex. Elec. Code § 243.006. The Governor is elected. Tex. Const. art. IV, §§ 1-2.  Title 14 (“Election Contests”) does not apply to Presidential primaries. Tex. Elec. Code § 221.001. Instead, a Presidential primary contest would be heard in district (trial) court. Tex. Elec. Code § 232.001, 232.002. 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?

Unconstrained

Recounts are conducted by recount committees. Elections Code s 213.002. In Presidential recounts, county judges appoint the members of the recount committees and also head the committees. Id.; Elections Code s 67.002, 213.001; Local Government Code s 81.001; see also Texas SoS’s Procedures to Request and Conduct a Recount. There are no rules governing the partisan composition of the recount committee. See 213.003. County judges are elected. Tex. Const. Art. V, s 15. Candidates and their representatives may observe the recount. 213.013.

The Texas administrative code contains no further details.