Election Advisory No. 2022-27

To: All County Election Officers (County Clerks/Elections Administrators/County Tax Assessor-Collectors)
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Keith Ingram's signature
Date: September 1, 2022
RE: Additional Instructions for Preparation of Ballot for Write-In Candidates and Independents, Procedures for Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected, and Legend Printing Instructions  

Instructions Specific to the Preparation of the Ballot – Write-In Candidates and Independents

Write-in Candidates

Section 52.068(a) of the Election Code states that if no candidate’s name is to appear on the ballot for an office and there is no declared write-in candidate for that office, the office title does not need to be printed on the ballot.

Section 124.0621 of the Code states that for counties using an optical/digital scan ballot, blank write-in lines must be provided on the ballot only for offices where a declared write-in candidate has been certified. You may include the language “write-in (voto escrito)” under the write-in line on your ballot to describe the purpose of the line. For counties using a DRE or ballot marking device, a blank write-in line needs to appear on the ballot page under the race title following the candidates’ names that are printed on the ballot. You will need to post special instructions on how the voter is to vote for a write-in candidate on the DRE or ballot marking device.

The sample ballot displays a square in the write-in column for which a candidate filed a valid declaration of write-in candidacy for state or district office. Do not print a write-in square for each race printed on the ballot; only races with declared write-in candidates should have a square.

When you prepare the list of declared write-in candidates, do not include candidates running for any district offices that are not included in your county. This list must be posted in each voting booth, on the wall where voters may be standing in line, and included with each mail ballot.

The Code does not provide direction as to how to list multiple write-in candidates for the same office on the List of Declared Write-in Candidates. If there are two or more declared write-in candidates in any one race, the Secretary of State recommends that you list them in alphabetical order or conduct a ballot drawing pursuant to Section 52.094(a) & (c) of the Code. The List of Declared Write-In Candidates should list only those candidates running for offices for which the voter is eligible to vote. For example, if your county has a declared write-in candidate for County Commissioner, Precinct 2, that candidate's name should appear only on the list posted in the voting precincts contained in that commissioner’s precinct. If your county participates in the Countywide Polling Place Program, you must post all declared write-in candidates’ names in every voting booth that is deployed to polling places throughout the county.

The List of Declared Write-in Candidates must be mailed with the official balloting materials to all voters who vote by mail and must be posted in each voting station during early voting and on Election Day.

Independent Candidates

Independent candidates will be listed on the ballot just as party affiliated candidates are listed.  In accordance with Section 52.094(a) of the Code, if there is more than one independent candidate for an office, there will need to be a ballot drawing only for those independent candidates. The ballot drawing will determine the order of names of the independent candidates within the candidate listing for that office. This ballot drawing does not affect the listing of other candidates in the race.  

Procedures for Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected

Senate Bill 1 (87th Leg., 2nd C.S., 2021) amended Section 2.056 of the Code to require that unopposed candidates be declared elected for the office sought, if otherwise authorized.

State and District Offices

The Secretary of State will certify the unopposed candidates for state and district offices as declared elected. Offices and names of any candidate declared elected shall be listed separately after the contested races in the election under the heading “Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected.” The candidates shall be grouped according to their respective political party affiliations or status as independents in the same relative order prescribed for the ballot generally. No votes are cast in connection with the candidates.

County and Precinct Offices

As county elections officer, you are the certifying authority for unopposed county and precinct candidates.

Senate Bill 1 amended Section 2.056 of the Code to provide that the certifying authority MUST declare a candidate elected to a state or county office if, were the election held, only the votes cast for that candidate in the election for that office may be counted.

Offices and names of any candidate declared elected shall be listed separately after the contested races in the election under the heading “Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected.” The candidates shall be grouped according to their respective political party affiliations or status as independents in the same relative order prescribed for the ballot generally. No votes are cast in connection with the candidates.

You may print all of your duly-elected county and precinct candidates on all ballots and do not need to take into account specific ballot styles. For example, if both your county commissioners’ races for Precincts 2 and 4 were unopposed, you may print both races on all ballots, even ballots where voters would not be voting on county commissioner in this election.

The Sample Ballot posted on our website demonstrates the ballot layout for how Unopposed Candidates Declared Elected should appear on the ballot.

Separate Listing of Unopposed Candidates for Electronic Voting Systems

The bloc voting provided under Section 124.003 of the Code cannot be used for unopposed federal, state, district, or county offices, as Section 2.056 would apply to those races and no votes would be cast in connection with the candidates. Instead, Section 124.003 is only an option for cities, schools, and other political subdivisions that are unable to cancel their election due to Section 2.052.  

Printing Legend Instructions

If you abbreviate the party names on the ballot, you must also print a legend containing the explanation for each party. We suggest that you print the party legend at the bottom of the ballot or in the instruction box. For those of you who use voting equipment that will not allow you to place party legend on the ballot, we direct you to place the legend in each voting booth. You may combine the party legend with the List of Declared Write-In Candidates. See example below:

List of Declared Write-In Candidates

  Name of Candidate     Office Sought
  Name   United States Representative

Legend of Party Affillation or Independent Printed on Ballot

  Republican=Rep
  Democratic =Dem
  Libertarian=Lib
  Green=Grn
  Independent=Ind

If you have any questions regarding this memorandum or the information enclosed, please call the Elections Division toll-free at 1-800-252-2216 or email elections@sos.texas.gov.

KI:LP