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Election Advisory No. 2019-29

To: County Election Officers
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: November 15, 2019
RE: Write-in Procedures for County and Precinct Chair Candidates for Primary Holding Parties.

Introduction

In its 86th Regular Session (2019), the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 2640, amending certain provisions of the Texas Election Code. Section 171.0231 was amended to provide that write-in candidates may be permitted for county chair or precinct chair if a county executive committee authorizes write-in candidates. Pursuant to Section 171.0231(b)(5), the procedures of Subchapter B, Chapter 146 apply to write-in voting for the office of county chair or precinct chair, with appropriate modifications.

Filing Period:

Saturday, November 16, 2019 – Monday, December 16, 2019 (6:00 pm). The declaration of write-in candidacy must be filed not later than 6 p.m. of the fifth day after the date of the filing deadline for the general primary election. In 2019, this is Monday, December 16, 2019. (The deadline is extended to the next regular business day, due to the 5th day after the application filing deadline falling on Saturday, December 14, 2019. (Sec. 1.006)). The first day to file is Saturday, November 16, 2019, the 30th day before the write-in deadline, based on the general rule in Section 146.025. (Secs. 146.025 & 171.0231).

Form: Our office has prescribed the write-in declaration form for county chair and precinct chair.

Withdrawal Deadline:

 The withdrawal deadline for write-in candidates defaults to general rule in 146.0301 which is the 71st day before election day. That day falls on December 23, 2019.

Notice Requirements: 

At least 24 hours before the write-in deadline, the county chair (or secretary of the county executive committee) should post on the political party’s Internet website or in the location where a candidate files a declaration, modifying as needed, a notice containing the address at which the county chair and secretary of the county executive committee will be available to receive declarations on the last day for filing a declaration. Because the write-in deadline is a Monday, we recommend posting this notice on the preceding Friday if possible.

Actions by County Executive Committee

HB 2640 does not provide a deadline for the executive committee to decide whether to authorize write-in candidates. The SOS recommends that the county executive committee should make this decision prior to the end of the December 9, 2019 filing period for regular primary candidates. However, should a county executive committee decide to authorize write-ins after that point, they have authority to do so, but we recommend they do so with enough time to post the 24-hour notice of where they will be on the final day of the filing period.

If the committee decides to authorize write-in candidates, the authorization must be for both the office of county chair and precinct chair. The committee cannot choose one office and not the other. Sec. 171.0231(b).

Prospective Candidate Filings:

 If a candidate wishes to file a declaration before the committee decides whether to adopt the write-in procedure, you should err in favor of the candidate and accept the declaration for timely delivery. The filing must not be earlier than the first day to file the declaration (November 16). As described above, we think the executive committee must make a decision no later than the filing deadline, preferably in time for the notice. If the committee chooses not to authorize the procedure, then you should send the candidate a notice of rejection. We recommend that you notate on the form that the procedure was not authorized, so it is clear from the face of the form why it did not result in a declared write-in.

Section 171.0221 provides that if only one candidate's name is to be placed on the ballot for the office of precinct chair and no candidate's name is to be placed on the list of write-in candidates for that office, the election for that office is not held, and the unopposed candidate, if otherwise eligible, shall be declared elected to the office at the time of the local canvass.

The Secretary of State will provide more detailed instructions regarding the preparation of ballots containing write-in options for these races in our ballot certification and sample ballot memo.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 1-800-252-8683.

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