Elections in Texas

Covid 19

COVID-19 & Voting

Visit our COVID-19 page to learn about voting protocols during the pandemic.

Important dates

January 31, 2022 - Last day to register to vote in March election
February 14, 2022 - First day of early voting
February 18, 2022 - Last day to apply for ballot by mail 
February 25, 2022- Last day of early voting
March 1, 2022 - Election day and postmark deadline for mail ballots
Countdown to Next Election Day

Where do you start?

Follow these steps when trying to figure out if and when you can participate in an upcoming election cycle. Texas has special voting requirements that are more strict than other states. 

Register

Find out if you are registered to vote in Texas

Absentee Voting

Check to see if you qualify to vote by mail

Learn

Receive an issue-based sample ballot

Voter ID Laws

Know which type of I.D. is needed to vote

Locate

Find your nearest qualified polling place

Voting Rights

Protect your rights when you head to the polls

What does an elected official do?

Each elected official in Texas has a different role that depends on the level of government they serve. Use our tool below to navigate what types of responsibilities every elected official has.

Structure

The federal government is comprised of three different branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch has its own set of responsibilities and powers.

Positions

These are the types of elected officials representing Texas in the federal government.

President

Executive

Term: 4 years up to 2 terms

Number of positions: 1

The President is the highest-ranking elected official in the executive branch. They are responsible for serving as chief of military, appointing heads of executive agencies, signing bills into law, and engaging in national diplomacy, among other duties.

U.S. Senator

Legislative

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 2

The U.S. Senate makes up one-half of Congress. There are two senators elected from each state. U.S. Senators are responsible for proposing laws, declaring war, ratifying treaties, and approving the President's nominations for agencies and judgeships, among other duties.

U.S. Representative

Legislative

Term: 2 years

Number of positions: 36 districts

The U.S. House of Representatives makes up the other half of Congress. State population determines the number of Representatives from each state. U.S. Reps are responsible for proposing laws, among other duties.

Structure

Texas state government is comprised of three different branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Like the federal government, each state branch has its own set of responsibilities and powers.

Positions

These are the types of elected officials representing Texas in state government.

State Representative

Legislative

Term: 2 years

Number of positions: 150 districts

Texas State Representatives make up half of the Texas Legislature. They are responsible for considering proposed laws, resolutions, state constitutional amendments, and the state government budget. 

Lieutenant Governor

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Lieutenant Governor is second in line to the Governor, should they be removed from office. They are responsible for overseeing the Texas Senate, casting a vote on a law only if there is a tie. 

Commisioner of General Land Office

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Commissioner of General Land Office manages state lands. They are responsible for preserving state parks, overseeing the Veterans Land Board, and aiding in natural disaster recovery.

State Board of Education

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 15 districts

The SBOE oversees the Texas Education Agency. They are responsible for setting statewide curriculum and graduation standards as well as reviewing teacher certificaton requirements.

Justice,
Court of Crim. Appeals

Judicial

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 8

The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest court for criminal matters in Texas. Justices are responsible for hearing appeals of state crimes or criminal motions.

State Senator

Legislative

Term: 2-4 years, depends on lottery

Number of positions: 31 districts

Texas Senate makes up the other half of the Texas Legislature. They have the same responsibilities as state representatives. The Texas Senate also has the power to advise on the governor's appointments.

Attorney General

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Attorney General oversees all incidents where Texas is facing legal action. Legal actions can include pursuing child support claims, prosecuting crimes, and defending the state against lawsuits.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Commissioner of Agriculture oversees the Texas Department of Agriculture. They are responsible for preserving state parks, overseeing the Veterans Land Board, and aiding in natural disaster recovery.

Chief Justice,
Supreme Court

Judicial

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 1

There are two Supreme Courts in Texas. The Supreme Court of Texas oversees civil matters. The Chief Justice presides over the other eight justices but their vote carries the same weight.

Justice,
Supreme Court

Judicial

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 8

The Supreme Court of Texas is the highest court for civil matters in Texas. Justices are responsible for hearing appeals from all civil lawsuits.

Governor

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Governor's responsibilities are similar to the President's but only over the state. They are responsible for commanding state military forces, signing or vetoing bills, and appointing heads of state agencies, among other duties.

Comptroller of Public Accounts

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1

The Comptroller of Public Accounts acts as the chief financial officer for the state. They are responsible for collecting taxes and managing the state's budget. 

Railroad Commissioner

Executive

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 3

The Railroad Commissioners don't actually regulate railroads. Instead, they are responsible for regulating oil, natural gas, minerals, pipelines, and hazardous chemicals.

Presiding Judge,
Court of Crim. Appeals

Judicial

Term: 6 years

Number of positions: 1

The Presiding Judge holds the same position as the Chief Justice but on the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest court for criminal matters in Texas. 

Structure

Generally, county governments have three types of operations: executive, law enforcement, and judicial. Texas has 254 counties, each with their own government. Counties range in size, thus affecting the way each county government is run. Smaller governments combine positions and follow different rules.  For example, some small counties have an elected official serving as district and county clerk while larger counties have two elected officials, one as district clerk and one as county clerk.

Positions

These are the types of elected officials representing Texas in county government.

Sheriff

Law Enforcement

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254 (14 sheriff/tax-assessors)

The Sheriff is a licensed peace officer that oversees the Sheriff's Department (i.e. county peace officers). They are responsible for managing the county jails, serving warrants, regulating bondspeople in counties without bond boards, and providing security in courts.

Constable

Law Enforcement

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: unknown

Constables are licensed peace officer that has jurisdiction over a certain district within the county. Constables can serve warrants, subpoenas, and temporary restraining orders. Constables can also serve as bailiffs for Justice of the Peace courts.

County Tax Assessor-Collector

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254

The County Tax Assessor-Collector calculates and collects property taxes, processes motor vehicle transfers, issues vehicle and boat registrations, and registers voters.  Some Tax Assessor-Collectors collect taxes for localities like cities and school boards.

County Attorney

Executive/Law Enforcement

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 202

The County Attorney represents Texas in lawsuits in justice of the peace or county courts at law. They are responsible for providing legal advice to the commissioner's court. When a county is too small for a district attorney, the county attorney will handle those responsibilities.

Judge,
County Court at Law

Judicial

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: unknown

County Courts at Law are special jurisdiction courts that oversee whatever legal topic is set for them by the State Legislature. Most County Courts at Law exclusively handle appears from justice of the peace or municipal courts.

County Clerk

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254 (63 district/county clerks)

The County Clerk oversees all records for the county courts at law and the commissioner's courts. County Clerks also handle all property and vital records. County Clerks are the chief election officer in a county.

County Surveyor

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 32

The County Surveyor is responsible for surveying the land which means determining the plots and sizes of land tracts. This position has dwindled over time as open, unowned land has become sparse in Texas.

Community College Trustee

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: unknown

Community College Trustees govern the actions of community colleges. This is considered a county position because community colleges are normally funded by a county. They are responsible for ensuring quality education is available to students.

County Judge

Executive/Judicial

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254

The County Judge oversees the Commissioner's Court. In smaller counties, County Judges also handle all county court proceedings. County Judges are the head of emergency management for a county.

County Commissioner

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 1016

The County Commissioners sit on a Commissioner's Court. They are responsible for managing the county budget, issue countywide policies, maintaining county roads and buildings, and appointing countywide vacancies in office. 

District Clerk

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254 (63 district/county clerks)

The District Clerk oversees all records for the district courts. District Clerks also handle passport applications, judgments and filing fees, and jury selection processes. In smaller counties, County Clerks will absorb the duties of District Clerks. 

County Treasurer

Executive

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 254

The County Treasurer oversees the county's finances, like a Chief Finance Officer. They are responsible for all charges and deposits requested by the Commissioner's Court. In counties without a County Auditor, they also handle budget audit duties.

Criminal District Attorney

Law Enforcement

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: unknown

The District Attorney handles all criminal cases within a county. They are responsible for prosecuting and investigating crimes, presenting cases to grand juries, and representing victims in removal proceedings. Some counties don't have district attorneys.

Justice of the Peace

Judicial

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: unknown

Justices of the Peace are responsible for handling small claims. Some topics of small claims include landlord/tenant issues, truancy claims, issues under $20,000, and traffic violations (Class C misdemeanors).

Judge,
District Courts

Judicial

Term: 4 years

Number of positions: 465

District Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in Texas. Each county must be served by at least one district court. Courts in larger counties may be distinguished by legal topic such as family law, probate, civil, and criminal. 

Structure

There are two different types of local government: city council and school board. Both entities operate independently from one another. ​

City councils (also referred to as town councils) manage the local operations of a municipality. The types of laws a municipality will follow depends on the municipality's population. Cities with less than 5,000 residents are given "home-rule" which allows them to make decisions beyond the state's prescribed government code. Mayors serve on city councils. However, the level of power a mayor has depends on the city council's structure. There are two different types of city council structures in Texas: council-manager and mayor-council.  A mayor-council structure gives the mayor more power than a city councilmember, allowing them to make appointments and prepare budgets without approval. A council-manager structure gives administrative power to an unelected city manager, leaving the mayor with the same powers as other council members. 

School boards manage the operations of a K-12 independent school district. School boards may have officer positions like President, Vice President, and Secretary but their voting power carries the same weight.

Positions

These are the types of elected officials representing Texas in local government.

Mayor

Term: generally 2-4 years

Number of positions: 1,200+

Depending on the type of city council structure, Mayors either serve on the city council or preside over the city council. Mayors engaged in the same municipal responsibilities as city councilmembers. 

City Councilmember

Term: generally 2-4 years

Number of positions: unknown

City councils oversee municipal functions like sewage, water, zoning ordinances, and the city budget. If a city council operates with a city manager, then the city manager will assist with administrative tasks and provide recommendations for council approval.

School Board Member

Term: generally 2-4 years

Number of positions: unknown

School board members are responsible for implementing curriculum, overseeing administrative operations, and ensuring quality education is available to students. They can issue local ordinances that govern the rules of the district.

What are the types of elections?

There are three "types" of elections that occur at different times of an election year: primary elections, runoff elections, and general elections. Take a look at the descriptions of each below.

Primary

When? Every other March

Primary elections are elections that narrow down partisan candidates for a general election. Only candidates that are running under a political party (i.e. Democrat or Republican) run in a primary election, even if they are unopposed. A primary election will produce a winning candidate for each party.

Runoff

When? As needed

Runoff elections are elections that occur when a primary or general election does not have a clear winner. There is no clear winner when a candidate does not meet the required number of votes to win. The number of votes required depends on the position sought. Runoffs can occur when the candidate with the most votes ties with another candidate or a candidate did not earn 51% of the vote. 

General

When? Every May and November

General elections are elections where the candidate with the most votes wins the position. General elections between partisan candidates occur after a primary. There are three types of general elections: uniform, midterm, and presidential. Uniform elections occur every May and are generally limited to local races. Midterms occur every four years and generally include most countywide and gubernatorial races. Presidential elections occur every four years (two years apart from midterm elections) and named as such because the presidential race is included.

Questions? Visit 866 Our Vote through the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law at their website or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).