ELECTION CODE


TITLE 6. CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS


CHAPTER 61. CONDUCT OF VOTING GENERALLY


SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS


Sec. 61.001. BYSTANDERS EXCLUDED; UNLAWFUL PRESENCE OF CANDIDATE. (a) Except as permitted by this code, a person may not be in the polling place from the time the presiding judge arrives there on election day to make the preliminary arrangements until the precinct returns have been certified and the election records have been assembled for distribution following the election.

(b) A candidate in the election commits an offense if the candidate is in a polling place during the period described by Subsection (a) for a purpose other than:

(1) voting; or

(2) official business in the building in which the polling place is located.

(c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that the candidate:

(1) is not within plain view or hearing of the persons in the voting area or the area in which voters are being accepted for voting; and

(2) is not engaged in campaign activity.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1350, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 61.002. OPENING POLLING PLACE FOR VOTING. At the official time for opening the polls for voting, an election officer shall open the polling place entrance and admit the voters.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.003. ELECTIONEERING AND LOITERING NEAR POLLING PLACE. (a) A person commits an offense if, during the voting period and within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located, the person:

(1) loiters; or

(2) electioneers for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.

(a-1) The entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place may not, at any time during the voting period, prohibit electioneering on the building's premises outside of the area described in Subsection (a), but may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering.

(b) In this section:

(1) "Electioneering" includes the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature.

(2) "Voting period" means the period beginning when the polls open for voting and ending when the polls close or the last voter has voted, whichever is later.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Amended by:

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 235 (H.B. 259), Sec. 1, eff. June 14, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 235 (H.B. 259), Sec. 2, eff. June 14, 2013.

Sec. 61.004. UNLAWFUL OPERATION OF SOUND AMPLIFICATION DEVICE OR SOUND TRUCK. (a) A person commits an offense if, during the voting period and within 1,000 feet of a building in which a polling place is located, the person operates a sound amplification device or a vehicle with a loudspeaker while the device or loudspeaker is being used for the purpose of:

(1) making a political speech; or

(2) electioneering for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.

(b) For the purpose of Subsection (a), a person operates a vehicle with a loudspeaker if the person drives the vehicle, uses the loudspeaker, or operates sound equipment in connection with the loudspeaker.

(c) In this section, "voting period" means the period prescribed by Section 61.003(b).

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 497 (H.B. 535), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005.

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 497 (H.B. 535), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 61.005. SECURITY OF BALLOTS, BALLOT BOXES, AND ENVELOPES. (a) From the time a presiding judge receives the official ballots for an election until the precinct returns for that election have been certified, the presiding judge shall take the precautions necessary to prevent access to the ballots, ballot boxes, and envelopes used for provisional ballots in a manner not authorized by law.

(b) The ballots, ballot boxes, and envelopes used for provisional ballots at a polling place shall be in plain view of at least one election officer from the time the polls open for voting until the precinct returns have been certified.

(c) A presiding election judge commits an offense if the judge fails to prevent another person from handling a ballot box containing voters' marked ballots or an envelope containing a voter's provisional ballot in an unauthorized manner or from making an unauthorized entry into the ballot box or envelope. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1078, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1315, Sec. 19, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.

Sec. 61.006. UNLAWFULLY DIVULGING VOTE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person was in a polling place for any purpose other than voting and knowingly communicates to another person information that the person obtained at the polling place about how a voter has voted.

(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

(c) This section does not apply to information presented in an official investigation or other official proceeding in which the information is relevant.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 53, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 61.007. UNLAWFULLY REVEALING INFORMATION BEFORE POLLS CLOSE. (a) An election officer, watcher, or other person serving at a polling place in an official capacity commits an offense if, before the polls close or the last voter has voted, whichever is later, the officer, watcher, or other person reveals:

(1) the number of votes that have been received for a candidate or for or against a measure;

(2) a candidate's position relative to other candidates in the tabulation of the votes;

(3) whether a measure is passing or failing; or

(4) the names of persons who have or have not voted in the election.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c) Beginning at 9:30 a.m. and at each subsequent two-hour interval through 5:30 p.m., the presiding judge shall post written notice of the total number of voters who have voted in the precinct. The notice shall be posted at an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which the polling place is located.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 440, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 472, Sec. 16, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 2, Sec. 7.04, eff. Aug. 28, 1989; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 427, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 61.008. UNLAWFULLY INFLUENCING VOTER. (a) A person commits an offense if the person indicates to a voter in a polling place by word, sign, or gesture how the person desires the voter to vote or not vote.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.009. INSTRUCTING VOTER ON CASTING BALLOT. On the request of a voter, an election officer shall instruct the voter on the proper procedure for casting a ballot.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.010. WEARING NAME TAG OR BADGE IN POLLING PLACE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may not wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election, in the polling place or within 100 feet of any outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which the polling place is located.

(b) An election judge, an election clerk, a state or federal election inspector, a certified peace officer, or a special peace officer appointed for the polling place by the presiding judge shall wear while on duty in the area described by Subsection (a) a tag or official badge that indicates the person's name and title or position.

(c) A person commits an offense if the person violates Subsection (a). An offense under this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 472, Sec. 17, eff. Sept. 1, 1987. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1349, Sec. 24, 25, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 61.011. REMOVING WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS FOUND IN POLLING PLACE. (a) An election officer shall periodically check each voting station and other areas of the polling place for sample ballots or other written communications used by voters that were left or discarded in the polling place.

(b) An election officer shall remove from the sight of the voters any written communication found under Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 112, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 61.012. ACCESS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. (a) Except as provided by Section 61.013, each polling place must provide at least one voting station that:

(1) complies with:

(A) Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794) and its subsequent amendments;

(B) Title II of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. Section 12131 et seq.) and its subsequent amendments; and

(C) the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) and its subsequent amendments; and

(2) provides a practical and effective means for voters with physical disabilities to cast a secret ballot.

(b) Repealed by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1182, Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 2007.

(c) Expired.

Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1315, Sec. 20, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.

Amended by:

Acts 2006, 79th Leg., 3rd C.S., Ch. 5 (H.B. 1), Sec. 11.02, eff. May 31, 2006.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1182 (H.B. 556), Sec. 2, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1182 (H.B. 556), Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 61.013. ACCESS BY PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: ELECTIONS OF CERTAIN POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS. (a) For an election other than an election of a political subdivision that is held jointly with another election in which a federal office appears on the ballot, the political subdivision is not required to meet the requirements of Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) if the political subdivision:

(1) is a county with a population of less than 2,000;

(2) is a county with a population of 2,000 or more but less than 5,000, and the county provides at least one voting station that meets the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) on election day;

(3) is a county with a population of 5,000 or more but less than 10,000, and the county provides at least one voting station that meets the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance;

(4) is a county with a population of 10,000 or more but less than 20,000, and the county:

(A) makes a showing in the manner provided by Subsection (c) that compliance with Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) constitutes an undue burden on the county;

(B) provides at least one voting station that meets the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; and

(C) provides a mobile voting station that meets the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) that during the period for early voting by personal appearance is deployed at least once at each polling place used for early voting by personal appearance; or

(5) is located in a county described by Subdivisions (1)-(4) and meets the same requirements as the county in which the political subdivision is located.

(b) A voter with a disability that desires a reasonable accommodation to vote in an election of a county described by Subsection (a)(1) or a political subdivision located in that county shall make a request for the accommodation with the early voting clerk of the county or political subdivision not later than the 21st day before the date of the election. On receipt of the request, the early voting clerk shall make a reasonable accommodation to allow the voter to cast a vote.

(c) A county or political subdivision may make a showing of undue burden under Subsection (a)(4)(A) by filing an application with the secretary of state not later than the 90th day before the date of the election that states the reasons that compliance would constitute an undue burden. A showing of an undue burden may be satisfied by proof that the election costs associated with compliance with Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) constitute a significant expense for the county or political subdivision and reflect an increase of at least 25 percent in the costs of holding an election as compared to the costs of the last general election held by the county or political subdivision before January 1, 2006. Not later than the 20th day after the date of receiving an application under this section, the secretary of state shall determine whether compliance with Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) is an undue burden for the county or political subdivision.

(d) A county or political subdivision that intends to use this section to provide fewer voting stations that meet the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) than required by Section 61.012(a)(1)(C) must:

(1) provide notice to the secretary of state of that intent not later than the 90th day before the date of the election; and

(2) for a county described by Subsection (a)(2), (3), or (4), or a political subdivision located in such a county, publish notice of the location of each voting station that meets the requirements for accessibility under 42 U.S.C. Section 15481(a)(3) in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or political subdivision not later than the 15th day before the date of the start of the period of early voting by personal appearance.

(e) For purposes of this section, a political subdivision located in more than one county may choose:

(1) to be considered located in the county that contains the greatest number of registered voters of the political subdivision; or

(2) for each portion of the political subdivision located in a different county, to be considered a separate political subdivision.

(f) The secretary of state shall prescribe procedures and adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1182 (H.B. 556), Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 61.014. USE OF CERTAIN DEVICES. (a) A person may not use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station.

(b) A person may not use any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station.

(c) The presiding judge may require a person who violates this section to turn off the device or to leave the polling place.

(d) This section does not apply to:

(1) an election officer in conducting the officer's official duties;

(2) the use of election equipment necessary for the conduct of the election; or

(3) a person who is employed at the location in which a polling place is located while the person is acting in the course of the person's employment.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 697 (H.B. 1921), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Renumbered from Election Code, Section 61.013 by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 87 (S.B. 1969), Sec. 27.001(12), eff. September 1, 2009.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 175 (H.B. 1493), Sec. 1, eff. May 27, 2009.

SUBCHAPTER B. INTERPRETER


Sec. 61.031. USE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), an election officer may not use a language other than English in performing an official duty in connection with the election.

(b) If a voter cannot communicate in English, an election officer may communicate with the voter in a language that the voter and the officer understand.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.032. INTERPRETER PERMITTED. If an election officer who attempts to communicate with a voter does not understand the language used by the voter, the voter may communicate through an interpreter selected by the voter.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.033. ELIGIBILITY TO SERVE AS INTERPRETER. To be eligible to serve as an interpreter, a person must be a registered voter of the county in which the voter needing the interpreter resides.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.034. TRANSLATING BALLOT. If a voter cannot comprehend the language in which the ballot is printed, an interpreter may accompany the voter to the voting station for the purpose of translating the ballot to the voter.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.035. OATH. Before serving as an interpreter, the person selected as interpreter must take the following oath administered by an election officer:

"I swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my ability, I will correctly interpret and translate each question, answer, or statement addressed either to the voter by any election officer or to an election officer by the voter."

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.

Sec. 61.036. TRANSLATION REQUIRED. (a) If an election officer and a voter communicate in a language other than English, any other election officer or watcher may request an English translation of anything communicated in the other language.

(b) If a translation request is made, the election officer communicating with the voter shall make the translation.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986.