Confused about voter registration rules and how to become a volunteer deputy registrar in Texas? You’re not alone! Information about Texas volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs, for short) is spread out inconsistently across several websites. To simplify things, I’ve compiled everything you need to know about becoming a VDR from official sources far and wide and translated it all into language you don’t need a law degree to understand.
What Volunteer Deputy Registers are:
VDRs are volunteers who are authorized by county voter registrars to distribute voter registration applications, help people fill out voter registration applications, and accept completed voter registration applications. In short, they are volunteers who can officially register voters.
Who should become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar:
You should become a VDR if you want to assist people who need help filling out registration applications, review applications to catch mistakes that would prevent registration, and personally ensure completed applications arrive safely at the voter registrar’s office. Legally, only authorized VDRs can handle other people’s completed registration applications.
People who are not VDRs can still hand out blank applications, but they can’t review completed applications or make sure they get submitted. Instead, they have to assume that people will fill out applications correctly and remember to submit them to the voter registrar’s office.
All previous deputy registrar appointments expired December 31, 2012, so even if you were a VDR last year you’ll need to be trained and appointed again before you can start registering voters this election cycle.
Becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar
You can become a VDR if you meet a few simple qualifications and attend an official training. After you’ve been trained, county voter registrars can authorize you to register voters in their county as a VDR.
You’re qualified to become a VDR if you are:
- eligible to vote in the United States (you’re not required to be registered to vote, just eligible)
- a Texas resident
AND you have never been convicted of:
- an offense related to failure to deliver a voter application to the voter registrar
- identity theft (under Section 32.51 of the Penal Code)
Before you can register voters as a VDR you must complete a Secretary of State prescribed training on Texas voter registration laws. These trainings are scheduled by county voter registrars in each county. Voter registrars should offer at least one training each month, but training schedules vary widely from county to county, and some counties will include additional approved materials in their trainings. You’ll need to contact your county’s voter registrar directly for more specific training information.
The Big Questions
Answers to some of the most confusing questions surrounding volunteer deputy registrars. This is the most recent information as of April 8, 2013, and it’s all been verified with the office of the Secretary of State. Links to original sources are provided when available.
Can I become a VDR in a county where I’m not a resident?
Yes. VDRs must be residents of the state of Texas, but there is no requirement that deputy registrars be residents of the county where they will be registering voters.
Section 12.006, Election Code
Can I be a VDR in more than one county?
Yes. You just need to be appointed as a VDR by the county voter registrar for each county where you want to register voters.
I’ve already been trained and appointed as a VDR this election cycle. Do I have to go through training again to become a VDR in another county?
No. After you receive the Secretary of State mandated training once, you do not need to be trained on those materials again until your term of appointment expires (on December 31st of even-numbered years). This means that if you’ve been trained and appointed in one county during the current election cycle, you don’t need to undergo the same training again to be a deputy in a different county. Instead, the voter registrar can just confirm that you’ve already completed the training with the previous voter registrar. (Election Advisory No. 2012-04 Sec. 3.3)
The caveat: Some counties include additional materials in their trainings to supplement the Secretary of State’s minimum training standards. If this is the case, you may need to review those materials before registering voters in that county.
Texas Secretary of State Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide
The Texas Election Code (Chapter 12)
Election Advisory No. 2012-04
House Bill 1570
House Bill 2194