Texas Governmental Entities Must Keep Your Personal Information Secret in Public Requests for Voting Records

He's said it once and repeating it: Texas governmental entities have a legal duty to redact any personally identifying information on voters' ballots when a Public Information Act request is made. In a new legal ruling, the state's Attorney General, Ken Paxton, issued the reminder.

Texas election law mandates that voting must be conducted to ensure the ballot's secrecy. That means no one should be able to determine how a voter voted. It's a constitutional right!

Basically, it means that after you go to the polls and cast a ballot and someone wants to ask a governmental entity for election records that contain your personal information, it has to respond in a way that keeps your privacy protected.  

Paxton initially issued a formal legal opinion explaining the right to voter ballot privacy in August 2022. The Texas Legislature codified the guidance into law in 2023, and Paxton reiterated it in May 2024 as another legal opinion.

This is his third legal ruling reminding state governmental entities that they need to protect voters' constitutional right to a secret ballot, saying that the "requirement of secrecy is mandatory" and that "election records custodians must redact such personally identifiable information."

You can read Paxton's most recent ruling here.

It's a good reminder for TEXPERS members and any other Texans planning to head to the polls for the November 2024 elections.

By the way, there are more election laws on the books in Texas to ensure the secrecy of the ballot. Here are some key points regarding your ballot privacy:

  • Voting Booths: Voting is done in private booths or similar setups to ensure that others cannot see your choices while you cast your ballot.
  • Prohibition of Ballot Disclosure: It is illegal for anyone to attempt to view your marked ballot or reveal it to others within a polling site. This is to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the voting process.
  • Mail-in-Ballots: Similar protections apply to mail-in-ballots, where the process is designed to protect the privacy of a voter's choices.
  • Assistance in Voting: If you need help while voting, you have the right to receive it, but the assistant must respect the confidentiality of your choices.

These measures ensure that Texans can cast their ballots without fear of intimidation or retaliation, maintaining the fundamental principle of the secret vote in democratic elections.

Additional Texas Voting Information to Check Out:

About the Author:
Allen Jones is the director of communications and event marketing for TEXPERS. He joined the Association in 2017. Before TEXPERS, he worked in the news media industry, producing content for newspapers, magazines, and online publications and leading newsrooms as an editor and publications manager. [email protected]


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