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Who Won the Election?


Saturday, May 4, 2024, was the designated general uniform election date set by the Texas Secretary of State. The Texas laws that govern elections is logically called the Texas Election Code and it applies to all “general, special, and primary elections held in this state,” Election Code Sec. 1.002. Texas law dictates that in order to maintain uniformity in applying and using the election laws, the Code designates the secretary of state as the chief election officer. Election Code Sec. 31.003; Bullock v. Calvert, 480 S.W.2d 367, 371 (Tex. 1972).  In the recent 2023 legislative session, Section 2.025 of the Texas Election Code was revised to require the Secretary of State to set the runoff date for all runoff elections resulting from an election held on a uniform election date. Saturday, June 15, 2024, has been designated the election date for all runoff elections resulting from elections held by local political subdivisions on May 4, 2024.

As discussed in previous blogs, there are several types of cities in Texas; home rule charter cities, and 3 types of general law cities.  Type A General Law cities are governed by Chapter 22 of the Texas Local Government Code and per Section 22.004, a Plurality Vote is required for election of an officer.  To be elected to an office of the municipality, a person must receive more votes than any other person for the office.  In addition, Texas Election Code 2.001 states “except as otherwise provided by law” a plurality vote is required wherein a candidate must “receive more votes than any other candidate for the office.” Council members in cities with two-year terms may be elected by winning a plurality of votes, unless altered by city charter or if the terms of office exceed 2 years.

Regarding the exception to Section 2.001 (3 or 4 year terms), if a home-rule municipality sets (by city charter) terms of office at more than two but less than four years, Article XI, Section 11 of the Texas Constitution requires that an elected officer win “by majority vote of the qualified voters.” Texas Constitution Art. XI, Sec. 11 (a).  That same provision allows a general law city to choose to require a majority vote rather than plurality vote, however that requires an election on the length of terms of office.  The Texas Secretary of State defines a majority as follows:

Majority: More than 50%. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in an election requiring a majority, then a runoff election is required between the top two vote getters.

Texas courts have opined that the word “majority” as used in Texas statutes has been interpreted in the “traditional sense” so that a majority vote consists of more than one half of the original votes, as cast and not re-assigned by the voter’s secondary or tertiary intent, and if no candidate receives more than half the votes, a runoff election is required. See Estrada v. Adam, 951 S.W.2d 165 (Tex. App. — Corpus Christi 1997, no writ).

Chapter 275 of the Texas Election Code applies to cities in Texas with more than 200,000 residents.  The Texas Election Code (the “Code”) provides that cities over 200,000 in population must elect by “majority.” The Code defines “majority” as follows:  Section 275.002. Majority Vote Required; To be elected to a city office, a candidate must receive a majority of the total number of votes received by all candidates for the office.

If the results reflect no winner with the necessary number of votes where a majority vote is required, then the Election Code Section 2.021 requires a runoff election.  A candidate running for a position in a general law type A city, however, may be elected by a plurality vote or majority vote dependent upon term length as mentioned above.

If there is no winner, then Article XVI, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution states an officer in Texas “continues to perform the duties of office” or holds over in office until a successor is duly qualified.  A successor may be chosen either by election by majority vote or, if the office is vacant, by appointment. See, Plains Common Consol. Sch. Dist. No. I v. Hayhurst, 122 S.W.2d 322,326-27 (Tex. Civ. App.-Amarillo 1938, no writ) (discussing holdover provision).

Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. 

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