Knowledgebase Senate Bill 1 FAQ

Senate Bill 1, which will go into effect December 2, 2021, includes legislation that will impact the way Harris County Elections currently operates elections. Below is a summary of those changes. For full text of the SB1 legislation, click here.

Changes to the Texas election process in SB 1 include:

When will the SB1 law go into effect?

The law will go into effect for any election ordered after December 2, 2021. In the meantime, elections ordered prior to December 2, 2021 including the Joint Runoff Election December 11 and the Special Election January 25, 2022, will continue following the legal requirements prior to SB1.

A ban on in-person drive-thru voting

The bill bans in-person drive-thru voting in the state of Texas beginning December 2, 2021. It’s important to note, this will not impact voters ability to access curbside voting.

Curbside voting is federally mandated and available to voters with disabilities who could otherwise not enter the polls safely. Curbside voting has been, and will continue to be offered at all polling locations during both Early Voting and on Election Day.

In-Person Drive-thru voting is available to anyone who chooses to utilize it, without eligibility stipulations.

Yes, until the law goes into effect on December 2, 2021, it is still legal to offer this method of voting for our November 2, 2021 elections.

New regulations for early voting hours, including a ban on 24-hour voting

The bill restricts early voting to a window of 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., which effectively bans 24-hour voting options in Harris County. Additionally, Sunday early voting hours will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and increasing the minimum required Sunday election hours from five to six hours.

Harris County will continue to go above and beyond the minimum requirements for early voting currently set at 12 hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and will continue to offer expanded hours through 10 p.m. (on select days to provide maximum voter access.

A ban on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications by the EA

The bill will make it illegal for the Harris County Elections Administrator to send mail ballot applications, including already eligible voters 65 and older, unless you reach out and specifically request an application be sent to you.

Go to and click on Voting by Mail from the homepage. Here you’ll find a downloadable vote by mail application, a mail ballot tracker to monitor the process of your application, and a full FAQ to help answer any additional questions. If you are unable to print an application, call our office at 713-755-6965 to request an application be mailed directly to you.

New ID requirements for voting by mail

The bill establishes additional rules for identification requirements for voting by mail. Voters will be asked to provide their full driver’s license number or, if they don’t have one, their last four digits of your Social Security number directly on the applications for ballots. The same identification must also be provided on the envelope used to return their completed ballot.

This information must match what is already on file in the individual’s voter record.

Harris County Elections is here to ensure any simple mistakes are addressed.

  • First, go to HarrisVotes and use our ballot tracker. Here you can monitor to ensure your application was received and processed and that your mail ballot has been received by our office.
  • If we spot any mistakes, we will proactively reach out to you directly to address any inconsistencies if you included a phone number or email when registering to vote. If not, we will mail you a letter with follow up information.
  • Still have questions? Call us at (713) 755-6965

Enhanced poll watcher protections and mandatory training

The bill strengthens the autonomy of partisan poll watchers by allowing them “free movement” within a polling station with the exception of at a polling station while a voter is casting their ballot. It will be a criminal offense to block a poll watcher “in a manner that would make observation not reasonably effective.” The bill will also require training for poll watchers before they are eligible to serve.

If the onsite election judge witnesses a state Penal Code violation, the poll watcher may be removed from the polling place without warning. If other Election Code violations occur, the poll watcher can only be removed if the Election Judge witnesses the infraction, not if other Election clerks, voters, or bystanders witnessed or were subject to violation.

However, If a voter feels a poll watcher has broken any rules or laws, they should immediately notify the election judge at the polling place, or county attorney at (713) 755-1617 so they can take steps to record and address the situation.

Creating new rules for voter assistants

If you plan to assist, or get assistance, for in-person voting, the person providing assistance must fill out new paperwork disclosing their relationship to the voter. Additionally, the person providing assistance must recite an expanded oath, now under the penalty of perjury, stating they did not “pressure or coerce” the voter into choosing them for assistance.

Part of the pledge limits their assistance to “reading the ballot to the voter, directing the voter to read the ballot, marking the voter’s ballot, or directing the voter to mark the ballot.”

Election Division Contact Us

Information is vital to accessing the voting process. For this reason, I encourage you to contact us if you have a question, need assistance or have a suggestion.