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Election Law Opinions

The Secretary of State is the chief election officer for the State of Texas. Section 31.004(a) of the Texas Election Code (the "Code") provides that, "The Secretary of State shall assist and advise all election authorities with regard to the application, operation, and interpretation of this code and of the election laws outside of this code." The Secretary of State will occasionally issue advice in the form of an official election law opinion. Generally, election law opinions are reserved for interpretations of election law that will have a significant impact on the election process. As a result of this provision and similar language contained in sections 31.001 and 31.003 of the Code, the Secretary of State responds to election-related requests from officials charged with election-related responsibilities. Individuals with duties of this nature include (but are not limited to):

Election Administrators; County Clerks; Voter Registrars; City Secretaries; Early Voting Clerks; City Councils; Mayors; School Boards; County Commissioners; and County Judges*.

The Elections Division invites these and any other officials, who deal with election law and policy, to contact our office for assistance with respect to the application and interpretation of the State's election laws.

The below Election Law Opinions were issued by the Elections Division from 1982 through present in answer to questions regarding election law matters.

*Please note that while election law opinions are generally in response to requests from election officials, the Secretary of State will in some instances issue an opinion on a matter of particular election importance whether the requestor is an election official or a member of the general public.

Secretary of State

Election Law Opinion



Rolando B. Pablos
RP-1 2018 Voter-Initiated Voter Registration Challenges on Residency
John Steen
JS-1 2013 Process for Addressing Identical Joint Resolutions
Geoffrey S. Connor
GSC-1 2004 On matters relating to residency
Gwyn Shea
GS-1 2002 Accepting donations for temporary branch polling locations
Henry Cuellar, Ph.D.
(Jan 2001 - Nov 2001)
HC-1 2001 "Instant runoff," "alternative voting," or "preferential voting."
Alberto R. Gonzales
(Dec 1997 - Jan 1999)
ARG-1 1998 Cancellation of elections with single-member districts.
Antonio O. Garza Jr.
(Jan 1995 - Dec 1997)
AOG-2 1997 Construction of Act of May 31, 1997, 75th Leg., R.S., H.B. 298, § 8(a)-(b)
  AOG-1 1996 Various questions regarding cancellation of elections.
John Hannah Jr.
(Jan 1991 - March 1994)
JH-4 1993 Application of the Texas Election Code to article 5154c-1, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes
  JH-3 1992 Application of the Texas Election Code to article IV, section 6, of the Charter of the City of Austin.
  JH-2 1991 Whether a watcher may use a tape recorder or audiovisual camera to record information at a central counting station, and whether a counting station manager has authority to control the manner and method of poll watching.
  JH-1 1991 Whether cities may require write-in candidates to file declarations of write-in candidacy
George S. Bayoud Jr.
(June 1989 - Jan 1991)
GSB-5 1990 Whether Section 51.079 of the Texas Local Government authorizes the holding of a non-binding referendum election if the city charter does not provide for such an election.
  GSB-4   Whether, by virtue of consolidation of elections held pursuant to Chapter 61 of the Texas Local Government Code, the entire City of Fair Oaks Ranch is included in the VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority.
  GSB-3 1990 Whether a political party's executive committee may make a nomination for an office appearing on the general election ballot if no one filed for the office in party's primary
  GSB-2 1990 Whether the City of Wylie legally held elections to increase its sales and use tax rate by ½% for the reduction of the property tax rate and to increase its sales and use tax rate by an additional ½% for dedication to local economic and industrial development.
  GSB-1 1990 Whether a public school may charge for expenses that are incurred from the use of the building as a polling place prior to and after normal business hours.
Jack M. Rains
(Jan 1987 - June 1989)
JMR-1 1987 Local option election to legalize pari-mutuel wagering.
Myra A. McDaniel (Sept. 6, 1984 - Jan 26, 1987)
MAM-2 1984 Whether the working hours of an election clerk nominated by a political party may be limited, and whether a poll watcher may use a hand-held tape recorder in the polling place.
  MAM-1 1984 When may an election be held to fill a vacancy in the office of council-person in a home rule city in which council-persons have terms of more than two years.
John W. Fainter Jr.
(Jan 1983 -July 1984)
JWF-36 1984 Whether a Water Control and Improvement District directors election held on a date other than that prescribed by statute is void; and, if so, whether a subsequent directors election held on the authorized date but at which no votes were cast resulted in the creation of vacancies in the directors' offices; and, if so, whether the originally appointed temporary directors may call a special election for August 11, 1984, to fill those vacancies, even though the temporary directors did not order an election within fifteen days of the creation of the vacancies.
  JWF-32 1984 Authority of a county to charge political parties for certain electronic voting equipment and services provided to political parties for use in party primary elections.
  JWF-31 1984 Regarding the determination of a majority of votes cast in an election.
  JWF-28 1984 Programming expenses for electronic tabulating equipment used in primary elections.
  JWF-27 1984 Absentee voting by a convicted felon whose conviction is pending appeal.
  JWF-24 1984 Disclosure for public inspection of voter registration files which contain a registrants' social security and telephone numbers.
  JWF-23 1984 Filling a vacancy in the office of county Chairman when there is no country executive Secretary.
  JWF-20 1983 House Bill 718, 68th Legislature (1983)
  JWF-19 1983 Authority of Dallas County to charge political parties for certain punch-card system related equipment and services to be provided by the county for use in party primaries.
  JWF-18 1983 Effective date of precinct boundary changes made by commissioners court and correction of voter registration records pursuant to such changes.
  JWF-17 1983 Form of the ballot in city charter elections.
  JWF-16 1983 Payments to precinct chairmen for attending meetings of the county executive committee.
  JWF-15 1983 Whether voter registration certificate should be sent to applicant's residence address or mailing address.
  JWF-14 1983 Place of filing Chapter 14 reports disclosing activity in a regional transportation authority confirmation election under Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann., art. 1118y.
  JWF-13 1983 Microfilming of voter registration applications and therefore destroying the original applications.
  JWF-12 1983 Interpretation of Tex. Elec. Code Ann, arts. 5.18a, subd. 2, 6.19a, § 2.
  JWF-11 1983 Authority of voter registrar to remove a registered voter's name from the voter registration rolls upon the voter's request.
  JWF-10 1983 Determining the validity of a petition calling for an election to reduce the tax rate of a taxing unit.
  JWF-9 1983 Magnetic tapes of voted punch card ballots
  JWF-8 1983 Filling a vacancy on the board of directors of a drainage district that elects its officers.
  JWF-7 1983 Use of funds received from the State Comptroller for new and cancelled voter registrations.
  JWF-5 1983 Whether a write-in candidate in an independent school district trustee election must file a declaration of write-in candidacy prior to the election.
  JWF-4 1983 Straight party voting with a mark-sense voting system.
  JWF-2 1983 Validity of a drawing for ballot position before the deadline for filing for a place on the ballot and requirements for an application for a place on the ballot in a municipal election.
  JWF-1 1983 An independent candidate's application for a place on the ballot in a home rule city.
David A. Dean
(Oct 1981 - Jan 1983)
DAD-73 1983 Texas Election Code procedure(s) to follow when a voter's registration is challenged.
  DAD-69 1983 Designation of party affiliation in Special Election for U.S. House of Representatives.
  DAD-66 1982 Whether a local option liquor election may be held in the territory of a former justice precinct that has been consolidated into a larger justice precinct.
  DAD-65 1982 Whether a person who votes in the runoff primary election of one political party is ineligible to be the nominee of a different political party at the succeeding general election
  DAD-63 1982 Whether an election judge appointed by the Commissioners court must select at least one clerk from each list submitted by the county chairmen of the major political parties.
  DAD-62 1982 Filling vacancy in office and vacancy in nomination for the Office of State Senator.
  DAD-60 1982 Whether the branch offices established to conduct absentee voting may be designated to serve election precincts.
  DAD-59 1982 Concerning the interpretation of V.A.T.S. Election Code, art. 5.18d which governs change of name.
  DAD-58 1982 Local option status under the Bingo Enabling Act.
  DAD-57 1982 Selection of members of the State Executive Committee.
  DAD-56 1982 Whether variations in the manner of writing in a candidate's name or a misspelling of either a given or surname determines whether a write-in vote is counted.
  DAD-55 1982 Whether a municipality may combine county precincts for city elections.
  DAD-53 1982 Whether a minor party candidate whose nomination is certified after the deadline may have his name printed on the ballot for the November general election.
  DAD-52 1982 The permissibility and reportability of mailing voter registration applications to new residents of a legislative district.
  DAD-51 1982 Whether an ineligible candidate who ran in the general primary election and won may withdraw as the party's elected nominee and subsequently be appointed as the party's nominee if he meets all the eligibility requirements for candidates at the time of appointment.
  DAD-50 1982 Posting paper absentee ballots voted by mail on voting machines used for voting absentee in person.
  DAD-49 1982 Sufficiency of recitals in the application of a nonpartisan or independent candidate for a place on the general election ballot.
  DAD-48 1982 Delivery of sealed ballot container to the central counting station.
  DAD-47 1982 Whether affidavits of residency may be required of voters in Rural Fire Prevention District election and whether real property ownership requirements to vote in said election is constitutional.
  DAD-46 1982 Whether an individual who was ineligible to be a candidate by the filing deadline could nonetheless be eligible to run in the general primary if the factor causing his ineligibility is removed before the general primary.
  DAD-44 1982 Qualifications for running as an independent or party nominee at a general election to fill a vacancy.
  DAD-43 1982 When must a state convention delegate meet a political party's membership requirements.
  DAD-42 1982 Whether U.S. Justice Department preclearance on proposal to vote outside precinct boundaries preempts Texas Election Code.
  DAD-41 1982 County-wide bingo election and county-wide bond election being held jointly.
  DAD-40 1982 Whether a defeated primary candidate may file as a write-in candidate at the November General Election, and, if so, will the write-in candidate's name appear on the General Election ballot.
  DAD-39 1982 Who bears costs of counting and canvassing absentee ballots in primary election.
  DAD-38 1982 Whether a person on the list of returned voter registration certificates is a qualified voter for the purposes of signing a petition to have the names of new or minor party candidates printed on the general election ballot
  DAD-36 1982 Lost or destroyed copies of petition seeking a local option liquor election.
  DAD-35 1982 Construction of laws governing state district judge appointed to fill vacancy on Supreme Court, that individual's ability to remain on general election ballot as a candidate for state district judgeship and if elected when may that individual assume the duties of state district judge.
  DAD-34 1982 Impact of Fashing decision.
  DAD-32 1982 Term of initially appointed Election Administrator and grounds for his removal.
  DAD-31 1982 Authority of a Political Party Convention Credentials Committee.
  DAD-30 1982 Holding a referendum election on an unauthorized date.
  DAD-28 1982 Length of term for individual appointed by Governor to newly-created district court.
  DAD-27 1982 Construction of prohibition on voting by voting by "idiots and lunatics," as those terms as used in Article VI, § 1, Texas Constitution
  DAD-26 1982 Vacancy appointment and legality of a declared write-in candidacy, for the office of constable (unexpired term).
  DAD-25 1982 Whether a county chairman who is elected in the first primary takes office immediately or after the date of the runoff primary.
  DAD-24 1982 Political party's use of county facilities on the primary election day.
  DAD-23 1982 When may an election to fill a vacancy pursuant to Article 11, § 11 of the Texas Constitution be held when the constitutional deadline has passed
  DAD-22 1982 Constitutionality of Article 15.16a, Texas Election Code.
  DAD-21 1982 Responsibility of Secretary of State to render advisory opinions concerning Chapter 14 investigations, litigation, or prosecutions.
  DAD-20 1982 Persons eligible to sign independent candidate's application for a place on the ballot.
  DAD-19 1982 Whether Marshall Martin is eligible to be a candidate for State Senate, District 15.
  DAD-16 1982 Legality of Using Rural Route or Post Office Address, Rather Than Residence Address, on Petition Submitted Under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
  DAD-15 1982 Information that may be placed on petition forms for independent candidates.
  DAD-11 1982 Filing fee paid with a check that was returned and marked "not sufficient funds."
  DAD-5 1982 Six Month Candidate Residency Requirement for Inhabitants of Newly-Annexed Municipal Territory.
  DAD-2 1981 Designation by place on ballot and method of filling certain judicial offices.
  DAD-1 1981 Ballot status of the Libertarian Party of Texas for the 1982 general election.