Texas Voting: The Unknown

Voting in the State of Texas

We are in full swing of early voting in the Great State of Texas.  This is Primary Election season, but it won’t be long and the General Election will be here. The 2008 US Census Bureau says that only 63% of all people registered to vote did. That doesn’t seem that bad, until you realize that only 72% of America is even registered to vote. In reality, only 45% of America is even voting in these elections, even though they could determine the fate of the country.

Primary vs General Elections

I spoke to friends last week who weren’t aware we were in election season.  Adults who forgot their civics education in high school.

In the Primary elections, voters indicate their preference for their party’s candidate (Democrat or Republican) for the upcoming general election.  This includes local, state and national elections.  In the Primary election there may be 1 or 12 persons running in your party for a position.  Voting in the Primary election narrows the names down to one person in your party to run in the General Election in November.

In the General Election, this is the final vote for your local, state and national elections.  The winners of the various primary elections are the remaining choices for the open positions.

What Do I Need to Vote?

First, you must register to vote.  Applications to vote are very accessible.  You can register when you apply for your drivers license or go to the Library.

You must be at least 17 years and 10 months when you apply.  The application must be received in the County Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked 30 days before an election in order for you to be eligible to vote in that election. 

All voters who registered to vote in Texas must provide the following:

  1. A valid Texas driver’s license number
  2. Texas Personal Identification Card number (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.)
  3. Texas Election ID Certificate
  4. Texas Handgun License
  5. U.S. Citizenship Certificate with Photo
  6. U.S. Military ID Card with Photo
  7. U.S. Passport (Book or Card)

What Can I Bring Inside the Voting Booth?

If you feel you need a little help remembering, you can bring printed materials, including a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.  You are NOT allowed to use a cell phone or other devices that can be used to take photographs.

The Art of Voting!

I recommend doing your research on each candidate and then, GO VOTE!

Should you have any legal questions, contact Conroe Law Office, Attorney John E. Choate, Jr. at johnc@conroelawoffice.com or 936.441.2999

Consultations are Free.

Who Can Find My Arrest Information? John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

Who Can Find My Arrest Information?                          John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

One of the questions we get frequently is who all has access to arrest records.  How do individuals or local news companies see mugs shots?  There are actually two different answers, depending on what you are asking about.

Public records of any arrest

First, arrest information including a mug shot is considered a public record. That is why you see lists in some newspapers, especially online, of whom all was arrested. That is also how news agencies find out about cases. They monitor the lists, and when someone newsworthy shows up, they start digging. Or if it's a slow news day, they might follow up on something that looks serious (like murder), or interesting.  In Montgomery County, it is a political push to list specific types of arrests.

Records of arrest are generally kept in two places. One is the agency who arrested you, and the other is the jail where the individual was booked into. If someone makes a specific request to either of those places, they have to furnish the information. However, the information that can be released is limited. Generally, it is the date you were arrested, and what the charge or charges were. Offense reports which describe the arrest are not public records, and cannot be disclosed.

Criminal history records

The other type of record is a person’s criminal history. This would include a print out of every time someone has been arrested, and the disposition of that charge. It also includes all court activity, including what happened. This information is confidential, but that only means it cannot be disclosed to the public. Instead, it is only available to certain types of people - generally, those are people associated with law enforcement. That means the press cannot request your criminal history. It also means an employer or potential employer cannot request the information.

Public databases

Since people want this type of information, it’s not surprising that companies have stepped in to fill the demand. There are several companies, which will pull together the public information about someone, and provide that - for a fee. The information they obtain is generally obtained from court records. For example, if charges are filed in court, there is a record of that. The companies go out and get that information, and then put it into their database. Anyone willing to pay can get it. Human Resource Departments utilize companies with these databases to determine hiring eligibility.

Sealing records

What most people want to know is whether these records can be sealed, so no one can access them. The answer depends on what happened with the case. In some cases, records can be expunged, while in other situations an order of non-disclosure can be entered. It's important to know what options might be available BEFORE you make a decision on your case. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.

There are numerous occasions where the databases have errors OR erroneous information which can cause harm.

Contact the Conroe Law Office to speak with our attorney, John E Choate, Jr to protect your name or if you have any questions.  Consultations are FREE!

johnc@conroelawoffice.com or 936.441.2999