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RULE §23.103Conduct of Referendum

(a) Upon request of the Council, the Commissioner shall conduct and prescribe the manner to conduct a referendum under Texas Agriculture Code, §41.162.

(b) Notice of the referendum shall be published at least once in one or more newspapers published and distributed within the boundaries in which the Council operates. The notice shall be published at least 60 days before the date of the referendum. In addition, at least 60 days before the date of the referendum, the Department will give direct written notice to each Extension office in the state.

(c) Notice provided in accordance with subsection (b) of this section shall include:

  (1) the date of the referendum;

  (2) the manner in which the referendum is to be conducted and the assessment collected;

  (3) the purpose of the referendum;

  (4) if an assessment referendum is being conducted, the maximum assessment to be paid by producers;

  (5) if held by physical balloting, the date, hours, and polling places for voting in the referendum and election, and the manner in which ballots will be distributed and deadline for submission of ballots;

  (6) whether a producer exemption is to be allowed, or whether the assessment shall be collected on a refund-only basis; and

  (7) who to contact for more information.

(d) Ballots must bear the signature and the address of the producer to be valid. A producer's signature on the ballot certifies that the voter owned cattle in the last 12 months before the date of the referendum.

(e) A canvassing committee appointed by the Commissioner shall count the ballots and verify the referendum results to the Commissioner for certification. Referendum results will be certified by the Commissioner.

(f) After the ballots are canvassed and the results certified by the Commissioner, the ballots shall be locked in a container and stored at the Headquarters for a period of 45 days. The container containing referendum ballots cannot be opened for the 45-day period without a court order or written request for recount. If no contests arise out of the referendum within 45 days after certification of such referendum, the Commissioner shall destroy the ballots by shredding.

(g) The referendum will be conducted in person and ballots will be available for eligible producers to vote at all Extension offices. Eligible producers may vote during normal office hours of the Extension offices during the voting period.

  (1) An eligible producer who is unable to access an Extension office to vote may request a mail ballot by contacting Headquarters. No eligible producer requesting a mail ballot shall be refused a ballot.

  (2) Ballots will be mailed to Headquarters, by the Extension offices via paid postage and by a deadline to be determined by the Department;

  (3) Ballots submitted to the Department by mail shall be maintained at Headquarters.

(h) A watcher may be present at Headquarters for the purpose of observing the processing of election results and until members of the canvassing committee complete their duties. Written notice of intent to be present during processing must be submitted to the Department at least 3 days prior to canvassing.

(i) Request for Recount. A request for recount must:

  (1) be in writing;

  (2) state the grounds for the recount;

  (3) be submitted to the Commissioner within 10 calendar days of canvass results; and

  (4) be signed by the person requesting the recount or, if there is more than one person, any one or more of them and state each requesting person's name and residence address. If the request is made on behalf of an organization or association, the person submitting the request must state that they are authorized to request a recount on behalf of the organization or association.

(j) Conduct of Recount. A recount will be conducted by the Department, under the supervision of a representative of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Source Note: The provisions of this §23.103 adopted to be effective November 5, 2017, 42 TexReg 6002; amended to be effective April 19, 2023, 48 TexReg 1953

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