Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from August 11, 2022 through September 10, 2022.

KP-411 (Election Ballots): Anonymous voted ballots are election records under the Election Code, and the Legislature has established procedures aimed at both preserving those records and granting public access to them. Section 66.058 of the Election Code requires the anonymous ballots to be held in a locked ballot box during a 22-month preservation period, with entry only as authorized by the Election Code.

Section 1.012 establishes these ballots as public information and requires the election records custodian to make the ballots available to the public. By expressly requiring the custodian to provide public access to such records, the Legislature authorized entry into the locked ballot box for such purpose during the 22-month period. Thus, members of the public and legislators may inspect or obtain copies of anonymous voted ballots during the 22-month preservation period.

Personally identifiable information contained in election records that could tie a voter’s identity to their specific voting selections is confidential and excepted from public disclosure. Any confidential information on an anonymous voted ballot must be redacted for purposes of disclosure in order to protect the constitutional right to a secret ballot.

The Election Code authorizes the Secretary of State and election records custodians to establish procedures to accomplish the dual priorities of ballot preservation and public access to anonymous voted ballots.