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Election Advisory No. 2019-28

To: County Election Officers
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: November 15, 2019
RE: House Bill 2640 – Updated Procedures for Political Parties Nominating by Primary Process

Introduction

In its 86th Regular Session (2019), the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 2640, amending certain provisions of the Texas Election Code relating to political parties and other election processes. This advisory describes the applicable changes in state law.

General Provisions

Precinct by Precinct Reporting:

Section 67.017 was amended to clarify that precinct by precinct reporting that is submitted to the Secretary of State now includes district, county, and precinct level offices. In addition, the changes clarify that the county election officers submit precinct by precinct reporting, which eliminates the submission of precinct by precinct reporting for local political subdivisions. This section was also amended to require these reports to be broken down by early voting in person, early voting by mail, and election day results.

Party Affiliation for Ballot by Mail Voter:

Section 162.003 was amended to provide that a person becomes affiliated with a political party when the person returns an early voting or limited primary ballot rather than when a person applies for and is provided a mail ballot.

Ballot Certification for the General Election for State and County Officers: 

Section 161.008 provides that the ballot certification for an election must be delivered by email in addition to any other method used for transmission. That ballot certification must occur no later than the 68th day before election day.

Modifications to Political Party Procedures

Affiliation Stamp/Affiliation Certificate: 

Section 162.004 provides that 90 days before primary election day, the county chair may notify county election officers that the chair does not require a stamped voter registration certificate or affiliation certificate for verification of attendance at a precinct convention. The 90th day before the March 3, 2020 primary election is Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Under Section 162.005, if county chairs opt out of the affiliation stamp or affiliation certificate, the county election official does not need to include an affiliation certificate with each early voting or limited ballot by mail.

List of Registered Voters for Convention:

Section 172.1141 requires a county clerk to prepare a list of voters participating in a primary election for the political party unless not later than the 90th day before the primary election the county chair notifies the county clerk that the chair does not require a list. If a county records the acceptance of a voter electronically, the state chair or county chair may request and the county clerk shall provide not later than the date of the local general primary canvass an electronic version of the list containing the voters who voted in the primary, the voter’s unique identifier (VUID), and whether the person voted early in person or by mail, or voted in person on election day. 

Affiliation with Party:

Section 162.008 was amended to include the text of the oath of affiliation in this section rather than incorporating it by reference. Additionally, if a person takes the oath, the person administering the oath may stamp the affiliation space on the voter’s registration certificate or issue an affiliation certificate.

Write-in Candidates for County Chair/Precinct Chair:

Section 171.0231 provides that write-in candidates are not permitted for county chair or precinct chair unless a county executive committee authorizes write-in candidates. Under HB 2640, the Secretary of State shall prescribe procedures necessary to implement the requirements of Section 171.0231(b). Please see Advisory 2019-29 – Write-in Procedures for County and Precinct Chair Candidates for Primary Holding Parties.

Organization of Party Executive Committees

Candidacy Issues

Ballots for Primary Election

Convention Notices:

Notice of Election:

Section 172.1112 requires the county clerk or elections administrator to post a notice of the election and notice of consolidated precincts in the manner prescribed under Section 4.003. Additionally, the notice of election shall be posted on the county’s Internet website.

Posting of Unofficial Tabulation of Precinct Results: 

Section 172.113 provides that the Secretary of State may require the posting of unofficial tabulation of precinct results on the Secretary of State’s website.

Canvass of Primary Election: 

Under Section 172.116, the county chair may designate someone to conduct the canvass on their behalf. A designee appointed by the county chair must be a member of the county executive committee or, if no member is available to conduct the canvass, a resident of the county served by the committee who is affiliated with the same political party. The canvass will be electronically submitted to the Secretary of State.

Listing of Candidates on Secretary of State’s Website: 

Section 172.117 recognizes two additional candidate statuses: “accepted”and “rejected.” The county chair is required to update the notations after each general primary or primary runoff election unless the Secretary of State’s Internet website automatically updates the notations based on election returns. Section 172.121 provides that the Secretary of State shall update the status of each candidate as appropriate for statewide and district office who is to be a candidate in the runoff.

Certification of Candidates on Secretary of State’s Website:

Section 172.122 provides that not later than the 20th day after the date the state canvass is completed, the state chair shall submit the certification of candidates to the Secretary of State for posting on the Secretary of State’s Internet website. Pursuant to HB 2640, the Secretary of State shall create a system for the state chair to submit this information to the Secretary of State.

Actions by State Chair on behalf of County Chair

State Chair as Fiscal Agent for the County:

Section 173.0341 provides that a state chair, or the designees of a state chair, may enter into an agreement with a county chair under which the state chair will act as a fiscal agent for the county party. If the state chair acts as the fiscal agent for a county party, the state chair shall deliver the completed agreement to the Secretary of State and any filing fee received by the county party must be made payable to the state party for deposit in the state primary fund not later than five days after receipt of the filing fee. Additionally, the county chair shall make a request in accordance with Section 31.093 to enter into a contract with the county election officer to conduct the primary election in that county. Section 173.031 (county primary fund) does not apply to the county party. Pursuant to HB 2640, the Secretary of State has prescribed a form agreement for this section.

Precinct Conventions: 

Section 174.021 provides that a political party may by rule allow a county to hold precinct conventions before or during the county convention on the same day and at the same place as the county convention. 

Organizing the Convention: 

Section 174.025 provides that before conducting business the precinct chair shall prepare a list containing the name and residence address of each person who is admitted to participate in the convention. The state executive committee by rule may adopt an alternate process in place of this requirement.

Presidential Nominations: 

Section 191.003 provides that the state chair of each political party holding a presidential primary election shall submit the candidate information to the Secretary of State for posting on the Secretary of State’s Internet website and certify the names of each presidential candidate who qualifies for a place on the presidential primary election ballot in the same manner as a candidate filing for statewide, district, and county offices. 

Posting of Party Rules: 

Section 191.008 provides that for a political party to be entitled to have its nominees for president and vice-president placed on the general election ballot, the rules related to the presidential primary shall be posted on the party’s Internet website and filed with the Secretary of State not later than January 5 of the presidential election year.

HB 2640 repealed the following provisions of the Texas Election Code: 171.054(g), 174.023(b), 174.064(b).

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

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