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ELECTIONS for SPECIAL DISTRICTS Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP 3711 S. MoPac Exp., Building One, Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78746 800-749-6646 512-472-8021.

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Presentation on theme: "ELECTIONS for SPECIAL DISTRICTS Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP 3711 S. MoPac Exp., Building One, Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78746 800-749-6646 512-472-8021."— Presentation transcript:

1 ELECTIONS for SPECIAL DISTRICTS Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP 3711 S. MoPac Exp., Building One, Suite 300 Austin, Texas Presented by Betty G. Brown

2 Topics for Today’s Discussion Purpose/Other Unique Requirements People Involved Use of Public Funds Conducting Election Events © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP Canvass & Final Events Election Personnel Legislature Session

3 Political Subdivision People Involved Governing Body Hold meetings Order Election Appoint Election Officer, Custodian, Agent and Early Voting Clerk Approve Contracts Approve Joint Agreements Approve Early Voting dates, times and locations Approve Election Day sites Approve Election Personnel Attorney of Governing BodyPrepare order of election Advise concerning language Election PersonnelPerform state required election duties Political CommitteesShow support for or against issues and/or candidates Citizens/Voters Vote © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

4 Secretary of Governing Body Role in Process Prepare and post notice of meetings Prepare and post agendas for meetings Prepare minutes of meetings Designate deputy to be used in absence Advise of time line for events Prepare documents needed for order, contract and/or agreements Present Governing Body with documents at each step of the process Serve as Election official of political subdivision Receive candidate applications and all campaign finance reports Prepare all notices needed for election process Prepare, publish & post Notice of Election Conduct election, if no contract for election services Prepare Unofficial Results Prepare order and other documents for canvass Send results to SOS © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

5 Purpose/Other Unique Requirements © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

6 Purpose of General Election To obtain citizens (voters) approval of people to serve as board directors who make the decisions on issues of the district © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

7 Purpose of Special Election To obtain citizens (voters) approval for members to fill vacancies on the board and approve or disprove bond issues and other measures for the district © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

8 WHO CAN VOTE Registered voters in the district If single member district, registered voter in the single member district If the property is located in two (2) territories, the voter gets to choose which territory or district If the county voter registration office has geocoding capabilities, they usually code where the residence is located, but if the property is split, the voter chooses © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

9 This can cause confusion for election workers, especially if in a small area It also means that if you have staggered single member districts, a person who has property in two (2) different districts could vote in one single member district one year and then change their voter registration before the next election to vote in the other single member district © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP E.C

10 General Elections Enabling statutes set out requirements, terms, etc. Election Code, Chapter 144 © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

11 Conducting Election Conducting Election Events © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

12 Notice of Candidate Filing Period E.C Post at least 30 days before: First day on which a candidate may file the application Post in public place in a building in which the authority has an office © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

13 When and How Election Ordered E.C Ordered by: – Resolution – Order When Ordered: – Last Day: May & November of odd years – 71 days before election day November of even years – 78 days before election day © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

14 Election Contract E.C County Clerks do not have to contract with other political subdivisions to hold election Election Administrators do have to contract when asked except for May of even years If no contract, secretary will be required to perform election events © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

15 Joint Election E.C. 271 Entities involved in elections in part or all of the same territory on the same date can hold joint elections Will need to approve one person as Joint Election Clerk © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

16 Joint Election (continued) Will need to approve all: – the early voting locations, dates and times; – election day polling places; – election personnel and central counting station © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

17 Joint Election Agreement Early Voting together or separate Election day polling place together or separate Election day ballot together or separate Election day Judges and Clerks together or separate Central Counting Station together or separate Any part or all of the above items © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP One size does not fit all Mix and match

18 Notice to County Officials E.C Deliver notice of election to the: County Clerk County Voter Register County Election Administrator Deliver at least 60 th days before election date Should be written notice © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

19 E.C (continued) If you elect your directors by single member districts or as one water district does by a director representing three or more counties each with staggered terms, then your election may be for only part of your territory Still required to notify those other counties of election © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

20 E.C ADVICE Once notified many counties think they are needing to get ballot language “This notice is sent to fulfill the requirements of Texas Election Code, Section Your County does not have a director’s position in this upcoming election, so no further action is needed by your office.” Suggestion: in your notification to these other counties, place a statement that says something like: “This notice is sent to fulfill the requirements of Texas Election Code, Section Your County does not have a director’s position in this upcoming election, so no further action is needed by your office.” © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

21 Mandatory Office Hours E.C Begins 50 th business day before general election or 3 rd business day after special election is ordered and continues to 40 th day after election day © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

22 Mandatory Office Hours (continued) Should your district have enabling statues that require majority vote and you need a runoff election to decide the final winner(s), the mandatory office hours will continue to the 40 th day after the runoff election date.

23 Publication E.C Special Districts, etc.: – Date: 30 th day before election thru 10 th day before election – Wording: Complete in English and Spanish – # of times: one time © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

24 Posting for General Election E.C days before election day a copy of the English and Spanish notice: – on the bulletin board used for posting notices of the meetings of the governing body some districts have several places that they must post notices some districts must send to SOS – on the website, if you have a website © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

25 Posting for Special Bond Election E.C days before election day a copy of the English and Spanish notice: – on the bulletin board used for posting notices of the meetings of the governing body some districts have several places that they must post notices some district must send to SOS – on the website, if you have a website © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

26 Posting for Special Bond Election (continued) Copy of the English and Spanish notice: – During early voting at each location – Election day at each polling place SOS has ruled that placing: – “notice of order in binder” on the wall and – orders in a notebook located at the check-in desk is sufficient to meet this requirement © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

27 Sample Notice for Early Voting and Election Day © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

28 Early Voting In person By mail Early Voting Ballot Board © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

29 Election Day Polling Places Provisional Ballots Central Counting Station © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

30 Equipment & Supplies Obtaining: Voting System Ballots Forms Signs Pens, Pencils, Tape, Etc. Giving out Collecting after election © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

31 Prohibition on Use of Public Funds To advocate for or against candidates or measures © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

32 Every effort should be made to assure that all communications regarding facts or circumstances at issue in the election are accurate. Just the Facts © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

33 State law prohibits an officer or employee of a political subdivision from spending public funds for political advertising. – Included within this prohibition is an express ban on knowingly using or authorizing the use of an internal mail system for the distribution of political advertising. Advertising E.C. 255 © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

34 An officer or employee of the political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising. Political advertising is a communication supporting a measure that, in return for consideration, is published, broadcast or appears in: – a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical, – radio or television, – pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard, or other sign, bumper sticker or similar form of written communication – an internet website. It is all about the definitions! © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

35 Tex. Elec. Code Section prohibits you, as officers, and your staff, as employees of the political subdivision, from knowingly spending or authorizing the spending of public funds for political advertising. Specific Actions Prohibited © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

36 A violation is a Class A misdemeanor It may also give rise to civil penalties by the Texas Ethics Commission, if a complaint is brought before that agency. Penalties for Violations © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

37 It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for an offense or a civil penalty, if an officer or employee can show they reasonably relied on a court order or an interpretation of the law in a court or AG opinion or in an opinion of the Texas Ethics Commission. Safe Harbor © 2013 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

38 It is important for the political subdivision to understand that members of the governing body as individual citizens may take whatever actions they may wish concerning supporting the election so long as you do so without using subdivision funds or resources. Employees, similarly, on their own time may campaign or otherwise participate in the election. Citizens may create specific purpose political committees and raise campaign funds and expend such funds advocating for or against candidates or the passage of measures in the election. Actions of Individuals © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

39 Conducting Election Election Personnel © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

40 Possible Outside Personnel Early Voting workers Election day polling place Presiding Judges, Alternate Judges and Clerks Poll Watchers State Inspectors Federal Inspectors Early Voting Ballot Board Central Counting Station Personnel  Manager  Tabulation Supervisor  Presiding Judge  Workers © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

41 Judges & Clerks Requirements: For Judge: registered voter of precinct For Clerk: registered voter of political subdivision Appointment Notice Training © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

42 Canvass and Final Events or Requirements © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

43 CANVASS E.C May: – First day: 3 rd day after the election or date on which the early voting ballot board has verified and counted all provisional ballots or date on which all timely received ballots cast from addresses outside the United States are counted, whichever is later date – Last day: 11 th day after election day (unless it falls on week-end or holiday, then next business day) November of odd years: – First day: 8 th day after election day – Last day: 11 th day after election day (unless it falls on week-end or holiday, then next business day) November of even years: – First day: 11 th day after election day (if no provisional ballots) 13 th day after election day (if provisional ballots) – Last day: 14 th day after election day (unless falls on week-end or holiday, then next business day) © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

44 CANVASS E.C Two members of the governing body constitute a quorum for purposes of canvassing an election Meeting must be posted 72 hours before © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

45 Other Events Can have: Recounts Contests Runoff Election © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

46 Results to SOS Each entity must send official election results to SOS by 30 th day after election date © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

47 84 TH LEGISLATURE SESSION Beginning the first day, many election bills have been filed. Many more may be filed before March 13, © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

48 “Hot” Topics © 2009 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP 84 TH LEGISLATURE SESSION

49 New Election Bills Early Voting: Allowing all voters to vote by mail Registration: Same day registration and voting Electronic voter registration Allowing some 16 year olds to register ID Allows some student ID to be used Program by SOS and DPS where picture on drivers license to be placed on voter registration card Remove May as an election date © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

50 ELECTION BILLS FILED (continued) Several with new requirements for bond elections Increase penalty for theft of official ballot or carrier envelope Polling Places Establishes polling place in county jail of certain counties Term limits Postings: Some on Comptroller’s internet website © 2014 Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP

51 ELECTIONS for SPECIAL DISTRICTS Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP 3711 S. MoPac Exp., Building One, Suite 300 Austin, Texas Presented by Betty G. Brown


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