At Least 34

Number of special sessions of the Texas Legislature for which at least one election-related issue was part of the call since 1921.

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a call for a special session to convene next week, and ballot-by-mail voter fraud is one of the issues on a draft supplemental call he intends to issue once the Legislature addresses the Sunset scheduling issue.

Elections are seldom marquee issues in called, or special, sessions of the Texas Legislature, but they have been sprinkled throughout the special sessions over the last century, appearing on the calls of at least 34 special sessions. The number is likely higher, particularly the farther back in time one goes. Many items on older calls referenced now-outdated statutes, acts of old Legislatures and other oblique references that could potentially involve other election-related issues.

With that caveat in mind, we list here each of the election-related issues that we found on special session calls issued since 1921. Unsurprisingly, redistricting is the most common item, appearing on 13 14 calls. Of particular historical significance are the creation of primaries (1923), their application to all party-nominated offices (1931), the requirement that candidates receive a majority vote (1961) and the establishment of a system of voter registration to replace the poll tax (1966).


Election Issues on Special Session Calls Since 1921

85th Legislature, 1st Called Session (2015) – mail-ballot fraud (not yet officially placed on the call)

83rd Legislature, 1st Called Session (2013) – redistricting

82nd Legislature, 1st Called Session (2011) – redistricting

79th Legislature, 1st and 2nd Called Sessions (2005) – November elections for school district trustees

78th Legislature

  • 1st and 3rd Called Sessions (2003) – redistricting, uniform date for canvassing elections, uniform date for receiving mail ballots, (re-)establishing uniform election dates
  • 2nd Called Session (2003) – redistricting

72nd Legislature

  • 1st and 2nd Called Sessions (1991) – redistricting
  • 3rd Called Session (1992) – redistricting, primary election dates

71st Legislature

  • 1st Called Session (1989) – filling junior college district trustee vacancy
  • 3rd and 4th Called Sessions (1990) – judicial elections
  • 5th and 6th Called Sessions (1990) – constitutional amendment relating to filling vacancies in state and district offices

69th Legislature, 3rd Called Session (1986) – primary elections, party conventions, selection of delegates to national presidential nominating conventions and procedures relating to candidacy for public office

68th Legislature, 2nd Called Session (1984) – tabulation of ballots

67th Legislature, 1st Called Session (1981) – redistricting

62nd Legislature

  • 1st Called Session (1971) – redistricting, financing of primary elections
  • 2nd Called Session (1972) – financing of primary elections
  • 4th Called Session (1972) – supplemental appropriation for financing of primary elections, authorize purchase of voting machines

59th Legislature, 1st Called Session (1966) – voter registration “in the event the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting is finally declared unconstitutional effective in 1966”

57th Legislature

  • 1st and 2nd Called Sessions (1961) – requiring majority vote for elections to Congress, Legislature
  • 3rd Called Session (1962) – terms of judicial and county offices, poll tax payment clarifications

45th Legislature, 1st Called Session (1937) – prohibition of certain campaign “donations”

44th Legislature, 2nd Called Session (1935) – period for calling of school board elections

43rd Legislature

  • 1st Called Session (1933) ­– appointment of election judges, poll tax revisions
  • 2nd Called Session (1933) – redistricting

42nd Legislature

  • 1st Called Session (1931) – redistricting, applicability of primary elections to all nominated offices
  • 2nd Called Session (1931) – redistricting

41st Legislature, 4th Called Session (1930) – “amending the election laws”

38th Legislature, 2nd Called Session (1923) – providing for primary elections

37th Legislature, 1st Called Session (1921) – redistricting

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