Law:Title 14. Election Contests (Texas)

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Subtitle A. Introductory Provisions

Contents

Chapter 221. General Provisions

Section  221.001.  Applicability Of Title.

This title does not apply to:

(1)  a general or special election for the office of United States senator or United States representative;

(2)  an election on a measure that is for advisory purposes only; or

(3)  a presidential primary election.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1986, 69th Leg., 3rd C.S., ch. 14, Sec. 35, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  221.002.  Jurisdiction.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section, the district court has exclusive original jurisdiction of an election contest.

(b)  The senate and the house of representatives, in joint session, have exclusive jurisdiction of a contest of a general election for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of the general land office, or attorney general.

(c)  The senate has exclusive jurisdiction of a contest of a general or special election for state senator.

(d)  The house of representatives has exclusive jurisdiction of a contest of a general or special election for state representative.

(e)  The governor has exclusive jurisdiction of a contest of the election of presidential electors.

(f)  The court of appeals has appellate jurisdiction of contests originating in the district court.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 163, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch.1423, Sec. 6.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  221.003.  Scope Of Inquiry.

(a) The tribunal hearing an election contest shall attempt to ascertain whether the outcome of the contested election, as shown by the final canvass, is not the true outcome because:

(1)  illegal votes were counted; or

(2)  an election officer or other person officially involved in the administration of the election:

(A)  prevented eligible voters from voting;

(B)  failed to count legal votes; or

(C)  engaged in other fraud or illegal conduct or made a mistake.

(b)  In this title, "illegal vote" means a vote that is not legally countable.

(c)  This section does not limit a provision of this code or another statute expanding the scope of inquiry in an election contest.

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



Section  221.004.  Default Judgment Not Allowed.

A default judgment may not be rendered in an election contest.

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



Section  221.005.  Date Of Determination Of Official Result Of Election.

Except as provided by Section 242.003, in this title the date the official result of an election is determined is the date the final canvassing authority for the election completes its canvass for the office or measure involved in the contest. If a new canvass is conducted following a recount, the date of the official result is the date the authority completes its canvass on the basis of the recount.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 2, Sec. 7.13, eff. Aug. 28, 1989.



Section  221.006.  Effect Of Contest On Canvass.

Except as otherwise provided by this title, the filing of an election contest before the canvass of the contested election is completed does not affect the canvassing process, and the result of the election shall be determined and certified as if the contest had not been filed.

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



Section  221.007.  Contestee In Contest Filed Before Final Canvass.

(a) If a contest is filed before the official result of the contested election is determined, the contestant may name as contestee the person shown by the election returns at the time of filing to be the appropriate contestee as determined under Subtitle B or C.

(b)  If the final canvass reveals that a necessary contestee as determined under Subtitle B or C has not been named, the contestant must name that contestee within the time limit prescribed for filing the petition. Action taken before the necessary contestee is named shall be set aside if it denies to the contestee any right to which a contestee is entitled.

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



Section 221.008.  Examination Of Secured Ballots And Equipment.

A tribunal hearing an election contest may cause secured ballot boxes, voting machines, or other equipment used in the election to be unsecured to determine the correct vote count or any other fact that the tribunal considers pertinent to a fair and just disposition of the contest.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1078, Sec. 21, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1315, Sec. 55, eff. Jan. 1, 2004.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1107, Sec. 2.17, eff. January 1, 2006.



Section  221.009.  Compelling Voter To Reveal Vote.

(a) A voter who cast an illegal vote may be compelled, after the illegality has been established to the satisfaction of the tribunal hearing the contest, to disclose the name of the candidate for whom the voter voted or how the voter voted on a measure if the issue is relevant to the election contest.

(b)  If the number of illegal votes is equal to or greater than the number of votes necessary to change the outcome of an election, the tribunal may declare the election void without attempting to determine how individual voters voted.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 228, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  221.010.  Secondary Evidence For Unavailable Ballots.

If an examination of ballots is needed in an election contest and the ballots are lost, destroyed, or otherwise beyond the reach of the tribunal, the voters who cast the ballots may testify as to how they voted.

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



Section  221.011.  Illegal Votes Subtracted.

(a) If the tribunal hearing an election contest can ascertain the candidate or side of a measure for which an illegal vote was cast, the tribunal shall subtract the vote from the official total for the candidate or side of the measure, as applicable.

(b)  If the tribunal finds that illegal votes were cast but cannot ascertain how the voters voted, the tribunal shall consider those votes in making its judgment.

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



Section  221.012.  Tribunal's Action On Contest.

(a) If the tribunal hearing an election contest can ascertain the true outcome of the election, the tribunal shall declare the outcome.

(b)  The tribunal shall declare the election void if it cannot ascertain the true outcome of the election.

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



Section  221.013.  Costs Of Contest When Election Declared Void.

(a) If a contested election is declared void, the tribunal shall assess the costs of the contest equally against the contestant and the contestee unless the tribunal, for good cause stated in the order assessing the costs, determines that they should be assessed otherwise.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not authorize assessment of costs against a contestee who is exempt from payment of costs by this title.

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



Section  221.014.  Expenses Of New Election Ordered In Election Contest.

(a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c), the expenses of a new election ordered by a tribunal in an election contest are paid from the same fund and by the same authority that paid the expenses of the contested election.

(b)  The county shall pay the expenses of a new election ordered in the contest of a local option election that was financed from money deposited by the applicants for the petition requesting the election.

(c)  In any other case in which petitioners for a contested election were required to make a deposit to be used, conditionally or unconditionally, for paying the election expenses, the district court shall determine the allocation of the expenses of the contested election and new election.

(d)  The secretary of state shall prescribe procedures for payment of the expenses of a court-ordered primary election.

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

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1235, Sec. 23, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  221.015.  Right To Occupy Office Involved In Contest.

(a) If the official result of a contested election shows that the contestee won, on qualifying as provided by law the contestee is entitled to occupy the office after the beginning of the term for which the election was held, pending the determination of the contest. If the final judgment does not change the official result, the contestee is entitled to continue in office without again qualifying for the office.

(b)  If a final judgment declaring the contestant elected is rendered after the beginning of the term for which the contested election was held, on qualifying as provided by law the contestant shall assume office as soon as practicable after the judgment becomes final.

(c)  A contestee occupying the office is entitled to the emoluments of the office that accrue during the period of occupancy. A contestant who gains the office is not entitled to emoluments for any period before the contestant assumes office.

(d)  If the final judgment declares the election void, the vacancy is created as of the later of the date of the judgment or the first day of the term for which the contested election was held. A person who occupies the office pending the outcome of the new election, either as a constitutional holdover from the prior term or through other law, is entitled to receive the emoluments of office until the successor qualifies for the office after the new election.

(e)  The person elected at the new election must qualify for the office as if no contest had occurred.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 759, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.



Section  221.016.  Preservation Of Contest Papers.

(a) The papers of a contest in the district court shall be preserved under the rules applicable to the papers in a civil suit.

(b)  The papers of a contest in a tribunal other than a court shall be preserved for 10 years after the date the contest is disposed of and shall then be transferred to the state library.

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



Section  221.017.  Effect Of Statutes Outside Code.

A statute outside this code that relates to contests of a particular type of election supersedes this code to the extent of any conflict.

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



Section 221.018.  Examination Of Certain Confidential Information.

(a) Notwithstanding Section 84.0021(b), the tribunal hearing an election contest may examine the information contained in an application under Section 84.0021 relating to the address at which the applicant is registered to vote.

(b)  Information may be examined under this section only for the purpose of hearing an election contest.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1295, Sec. 9, eff. June 15, 2007.

Chapter 231. Contest In District Court Generally

Section  231.001.  Applicability Of Subtitle.

This subtitle applies to an election contest of which the district court has jurisdiction.

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



Section  231.002.  Applicability Of Rules Governing Civil Suits.

Except as otherwise provided by this subtitle, the rules governing civil suits in the district court apply to an election contest in the district court.

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



Section  231.003.  Attendance On Legislature Not Ground For Continuance.

Intended or actual attendance on a session of the legislature by a party or an attorney for a party to an election contest is not a ground for granting a continuance in the trial of the contest.

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



Section  231.004.  Disqualification Of District Judge.

(a) The judge of a judicial district that includes any territory covered by a contested election that is less than statewide is disqualified to preside in the contest.

(b)  If a contest is filed in which a judge is disqualified under Subsection (a), the district clerk shall promptly call the filing to the attention of the judge. The judge shall promptly request the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region to assign a special judge to preside in the contest.

(c)  A judge who resides in the territory covered by a contested election is not eligible for assignment as a special judge for the contest.

(d)  Subsections (a), (b), and (c) do not apply to a contest of an election for an office of a political party.

(e)  In an election contest in which the district judge is disqualified, until a special judge is assigned to preside over the contest, the presiding judge of the administrative judicial region may take any action regarding the contest that a district judge may take if the contested election is:

(1)  a primary election; or

(2)  an election in which a runoff in the contested race is necessary, according to the official returns, or will be necessary if the contestant prevails.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 2, Sec. 7.14, eff. Aug. 28, 1989.



Section  231.005.  Jury Trial Not Allowed.

The district judge shall decide the issues of fact in an election contest without a jury.

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



Section  231.006.  Compelling Production Of Election Records And Attendance Of Election Officers.

The limitation on the distance within which a witness may be compelled to attend the trial of a civil suit does not apply to officers of a contested election or custodians of records, equipment, or supplies of a contested election who are subpoenaed to appear in the contest to give testimony or to produce election records, ballot boxes, or other tangible things.

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



Section  231.007.  Procedures For New Election Generally.

(a) If a judgment in an election contest orders that a new election be held, as soon as practicable after the judgment becomes final, the district court shall set the date for the new election. In the case of a general or special election, the court shall direct the appropriate authority to order the election for the date set by the court. In the case of a primary election, the court shall direct the appropriate officers of the political party to hold the election on the date set.

(b)  Except as otherwise provided by this subtitle, the new election shall be held in the same manner as the contested election.

(c)  The district court may set the election for a date that shortens the regular period for early voting, but the date must make it possible for early voting by personal appearance to begin not later than the 10th day before election day. In the order setting the date for the election, the court shall also set the date for beginning early voting by personal appearance if it is not possible to begin on the regular day.

(d)  In addition to public notice required by law, the district court may require the new election to be publicized in the manner prescribed by the court.

(e)  If a function in the conduct of a new election for an office would normally be performed by an officer who is a party to the contest, the district court may designate another person to perform the function and may fix a reasonable compensation for the service, to be paid as other expenses of the election.

(f)  The district court may shorten the normal period between election day and the date of the official canvass.

(g)  The district court retains jurisdiction of the contest until the new election is completed and may make any orders the court considers necessary to ensure its proper conduct.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 203, Sec. 2.70; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 554, Sec. 41, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.



Section  231.008.  Delivery Of Certified Copies Of Judgment.

(a) As soon as practicable after a judgment in an election contest becomes final or, if the judgment orders that a new election be held, after the district court sets the date for the new election, the district clerk shall deliver certified copies of the judgment as provided by this section. If the judgment orders a new election, the clerk shall attach to each copy of the judgment a certified copy of the order setting the election date and any other order relating to the conduct of the election.

(b)  If the judgment in a contest for an office affects the preparation of the ballot for a succeeding election, the clerk shall deliver a copy to the authority responsible for having the official ballot prepared or, in the case of a statewide or district office, to the authority responsible for certifying the names of the candidates for placement on the ballot.

(c)  If the judgment orders that a new general or special election be held, the clerk shall deliver a copy to the authority responsible for ordering the election. If the judgment orders a new primary election, the clerk shall deliver a copy to the state chair of the appropriate political party, in the case of a statewide or district office, or to the county chair, in the case of a county or precinct office.

(d)  The clerk shall deliver a copy of the judgment to the custodian of the election register for the final canvassing authority in the contested election. The custodian shall record in the register the judgment or an abstract of the judgment in sufficient detail to show the outcome of the contest.

(e)  The district judge may direct the clerk to furnish certified copies of the judgment to other persons as necessary to effectuate the judgment.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 211, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 229, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  231.009.  Precedence Of Contest On Appeal.

An election contest has precedence in the appellate courts and shall be disposed of as expeditiously as practicable.

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


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