The Texas Voter Choice Act
Legislation that restores and protects the right of every Texan to cast a meaningful vote in local, state and federal elections.
The Texas Voter Choice Act (TVCA) makes long-overdue changes to the original ballot access statute enacted in 1903. Much of that law is still in place, meaning Texas is still using a 19th Century system to regulate ballot access in the 21st Century. This is why running for office in Texas is so complicated, burdensome and expensive for minor party, new party, or independent candidates (major party nominees appear on the ballot automatically).
TVCA Key Provisions
- Establishes Reasonable Signature Requirements and Filing Deadlines
- Authorizes Voters to Sign Nomination Petitions Online
- Eliminates Restrictions on Voters’ Right to Sign Nomination Petitions
- Eliminates Unneeded Filing Requirements for Candidates
- Establishes Reasonable Requirements for Retaining Ballot Access
The Texas Voter Choice Act was filed for the first time during the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature as HB3068 by Rep. Ron Reynolds. Rep. Rafael Anchia co-sponsored. The bill is broken up into 18 sections amending parts of the Election Code.
Sections 1, 2, and 3: Online Portal
Section 1 of the bill allows nomination petitions to be signed electronically.
Sections 2 and 3 remove requirements that a petition circulator must read an oath to a signer and verify each signer’s registration status.
Section 2 adds a requirement for the Secretary of State to provide “a system for qualified voters to sign a nomination petition for a candidate or political party using a secure Internet portal.” The online system will allow only eligible voters to sign the petition, removing most of the labor and uncertainty around the signature verification process.
Sections 4 and 5: Sets reasonable deadlines for Independent Candidates
Section 4 changes the deadline for independent candidates to file a “Declaration of Intent to Run” form from December of the preceding year to July.
Section 5 changes the deadline for an independent candidate to file an application for a place on the ballot to a fixed July deadline instead of a date related to Primary Election Day or Primary Runoff Election Day.
Section 6: Deadline extension when a candidate is removed
Section 6 extends the deadline for an application for a place on the ballot if a candidate for that race is removed because of death, withdrawal, or ineligibility. The deadline is extended to five days after the original deadline.
Section 7: Reduces number of signatures required on nomination petitions
Section 7 reduces the number of signatures required on a nomination petition to 10,000 for a statewide candidate. For a district, county, or precinct office, the number of signatures required is reduced to 2% of the number of votes cast in that district for governor in the most recent election.
Sections 8 and 9: Changes petition language
Section 8 refers to independent candidates and Section 9 refers to primary candidates. These sections remove reference to prohibiting the voter from signing the nomination petition if he or she participated in a primary or convention of another party. It replaces that statement with language affirming that signing the petition does not obligate the voter to vote for the candidate on the petition.
Section 10: Sets deadline and delegate requirements for minor parties
Sets the deadline for a minor party to submit names of nominees for the first business day after July 4, instead of the 75th day after precinct conventions. Sets the requirement for precinct convention participants at 10,000, instead of 1% of total votes in most recent governor’s election.
Reduces the ballot retention requirement from 5% of the vote for any statewide office to 2%.
Section 11: Changes petition language for minor parties
Sets the signature requirement to 10,000. Removes language from the petition about the signer not voting in the primary. Adds language stating that the signer is not obligated to vote for the candidate listed.
Removes language allowing private party challenges to the validity of the petition.
Section 12: Removes deadline for filing authority
Removes deadline for the filing authority to submit candidate applications to the Secretary of State.
Sections 13 & 14: Sets deadline and requirements for county and precinct candidates in a minor party
Section 13 changes the deadline for a political party to submit candidate nominations to the county clerk to the first business day after July 4. Caps number of required convention participants at 5,000.
Section 14 caps the number of required signatures on a nomination petition at 5,000.
Section 15: Sets requirements for Independent candidates for President
Changes the deadline for submitting for a place on the ballot from May to August. Sets number of signatures required at 10,000.
Section 16: Repeals Restrictions on Voter Rights
Repeals prohibition on voters from signing more than one petition. Repeals requirement that petitions be circulated after the primary. Repeals prohibition on petition signers voting in the primary. Repeals deadline for candidates running in a minor party to submit application at the same time as candidates running in the primary.
Section 17 & 18: Effective dates
The last two sections of the bill establish when the changes will take effect.