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Election Advisory No. 2020-12

To: Election Officials
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: March 18, 2020
RE: Actions for May 2, 2020 Uniform Election Date

The purpose of this advisory is to provide guidance to local political subdivisions regarding their options for any general or special elections that have been ordered for the May 2, 2020 uniform election date. Pursuant to Section 418.016 of the Texas Government Code, the Governor has issued a proclamation (PDF) suspending certain provisions of the Texas Election Code and the Texas Water Code to allow all local political subdivisions that are utilizing the May 2, 2020 uniform election date to postpone their election to the November 3, 2020 uniform election date. Pursuant to Texas Election Code 31.003 and 31.004, our office has issued the following guidelines for entities that choose to exercise this authority and postpone their election to the November uniform election date.

Effect of Postponement of Election

Required Action by Governing Body to Move Election Date

In order to utilize this move, the governing body of the political subdivisions holding the elections must order the postponement of their election to the November 3, 2020 uniform election date. The order fo this official action should contain the following items:
    1. A reference to the proclamation that authorizes the entity to postpone their election date, and the fact that the political subdivision is exercising this authority.
    2. Confirmation that the candidate filings for the election will remain valid for the election held on the November date and that the filing period will not be re-opened for the November election date.
    3. Confirmation that all ABBMs for voters that are voting by mail due to being over the age of 65 or due to disability will still be valid for the postponed election, and that ABBMs for voters who submitted ABBMs based on expected absence from the county would not be valid for the postponed election.
    4. The major relevant dates for the November election, including the voter registration deadline (October 5, 2020), the deadline to submit an ABBM (October 23, 2020), and the dates for early voting (October 19, 2020 – October 30, 2020).

Necessary Revisions to Order of Election

In addition, the entity will need to meet by August 17, 2020 to make any necessary revisions to the entity’s original order of election. Those revisions may include:
    1. The change to the date of the election;
    2. Any change in location of the main early voting location;
    3. Any changes to early voting dates and hours, including weekend early voting;
    4. Any changes to the identity of the early voting clerk and their contact information; or
    5. Any changes to branch early voting locations.
If you are holding a bond election, you may need to make additional revisions to your order of electionfor that bond election. If this is the case, we recommend reaching out to your bond counsel for additional guidance.

Securing Election Records

All election records should be stored and secured during the postponement period. This may require your entity to use preservation methods that are similar to the methods you would use during the preservation period after the election has occurred. This includes:

Voting System Equipment

If you are leasing voting system equipment from the county or directly from the vendor, then you may need to contact your vendor or your county regarding any necessary modifications to those lease agreements or to modify your procedures and timelines for receiving that equipment.

Open Meeting Requirements

The Governor has suspended and modified certain open meeting requirements pursuant to his disaster declaration. These changes include allowing the entity to establish procedures for telephonic or videoconferenced meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the public. These procedures must include a process for members of the public to participate and address the governmental body in those meetings, notice to the public on the means of participating remotely, and access to the public for recordings of those meetings. For more information, please review the applicable documentation from the Governor’s Office or contact the Office of the Attorney General.

Update Official Websites and Notify Media

Any entities that are exercising this authority to postpone their election date must post notice on the entity’s website and should alert any local media organizations regarding this change to their election date. The entity must also provide notice to their county election officer regarding this change, as the county is required to post the entity’s notice of election on the county’s website no later than the 60th day before the date of the election under Election Code 4.008. If that election date will be changing due to the entity’s decision to postpone the election then the entity must provide a revised notice to the county for posting on the county’s website. If you have any questions regarding this advisory, please contact the Elections Division at 1-800-252- 2216.

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