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Election Advisory No. 2019-13

To: County Election Officers
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: August 31, 2019
RE: House Bill 2504 – New Rules for Parties Nominating by Convention Process

Introduction

In its 86th Regular Session (2019), the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 2504, amending certain provisions of the Texas Election Code related to parties that nominate candidates by the convention process. HB 2504 takes effect September 1, 2019.

Ballot Access Threshold

Section 181.005 of the Texas Election Code establishes when the candidates of a political party nominating by convention are guaranteed a place on the general election ballot. A party can guarantee this result by submitting to the Secretary of State a petition containing precinct convention participants and other signatures in support of the petition. Under pre-existing law, a party’s candidates have also been guaranteed a place on the general election ballot if, in the most recent general election, the party’s nominee for a statewide office received at least five percent of the votes cast for that office. HB 2504 revised Section 181.005 to lower the minimum threshold that is required for a party nominating by convention to guarantee its candidates a place on the general election ballot. As amended by HB 2504, Section 181.005 now provides that a party is entitled to have its nominees placed on the general election ballot automatically, if the party had a nominee for a statewide office receive a number of votes equal to at least two percent of the total number of votes for all candidates for that office at least once in the five previous general elections.

The Libertarian Party met this threshold in the 2018 general election, and the Green Party satisfied the threshold in the 2016 general election. Each of these parties is therefore entitled to have its candidates placed on the general election ballot in 2020.

Application Requirements

In order to become a Libertarian or Green Party nominee for a particular office, one must file an application (PDF) for nomination with the county or state party chair, as appropriate. (Sec. 181.032). The application must be filed no later than 6:00 PM on December 9, 2019. (Sec. 181.033). Candidates for federal office must file a federal application. Under HB 2504, the application for nomination must be accompanied by either a filing fee or a petition in lieu of filing fee, delivered to the Secretary of State (for a statewide or district office) or to the county judge (for a county or precinct office). The amount of the filing fee or the number of signatures required on the petition in lieu of a filing fee is the same as what is required for a candidate seeking nomination by primary election under Sections 172.024 and 172.025. (NOTE: There are no extra requirements for judicial applicants.) The first day a candidate may submit a filing fee or petition in lieu of filing fee to the Secretary of State or county judge, whichever is applicable, is November 9, 2019. Candidates should contact their party chairs for details on filing candidate applications. Additionally, although the effective date of HB 2504 is September 1, 2019, candidates may begin collecting petition signatures immediately.

Guidelines

  1. Filing Candidate Application: Candidates seeking nomination by the Libertarian or Green Party convention process will continue to file their application with the appropriate party chair, depending on the office sought. The deadline to file one’s application for the November 3, 2020 election is December 9, 2019.
    1. If a candidate does not complete the application by the deadline, they will not be eligible for nomination by the party convention process, even if they have paid the filing fee or completed the petition in lieu of filing fee.
    2. Once a candidate submits an application for nomination to the appropriate party chair, the chair must then enter the candidate’s information and application status into the Secretary of State’s candidate filing system. Details on submitting this information will be provided to the appropriate party chairs.
  2. Submitting Candidate Filing Fee or Petition in Lieu of Filing Fee: Candidates seeking nomination by the convention process will also now be required to deliver a filing fee or a completed petition in lieu of filing fee, along with a copy of their application for nomination, to the Secretary of State’s office (for statewide or district offices) or the county judge (for county or precinct offices) by 6:00 PM on December 9, 2019.
    1. If a candidate does not complete the petition in lieu of filing fee or pay the filing fee, they will not be eligible for nomination by the party convention process, even if they have completed and submitted their application for nomination.
    2. Once the Secretary of State’s office or county judge, whichever is applicable, receives payment of a filing fee or receives a completed petition in lieu of filing, the office must provide notification to the party chair that the candidate completed this part of the filing process.  Details on providing this information will be given directly to the county judge and applicable party chairs.
    3. The filing fee is payable by cash, check, or money order, but may not be paid by credit card.
    4. If a candidate fails to complete either of the two steps by December 9, 2019, their application for nomination will be rejected and any fee paid will be returned. (Sec. 141.038(a)(3)).

Please contact us at 1-800-252-VOTE(8683) or at elections@sos.texas.gov if you have any questions.

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