The Secretary of State of Texas
is one of six state officials designated by the Texas Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Texas is the document that describes the structure and function of the government of the U.S. State of Texas.Texas has had seven constitutions: the constitution of Coahuila y Tejas, the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas, the state constitutions of 1845,...
to form the executive department of that U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...
. The Secretary of State is appointed by the Governor
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...
, with confirmation by the Texas Senate
The Texas Senate is the upper house of the Texas Legislature. There are 31 members of the Senate, representing 31 single-member districts across the state with populations of approximately 672,000 per constituency. There are no term limits, and each term is four years long. The Senate meets at the...
, and serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
The Secretary serves as Chief Election Officer for Texas, assisting county election officials and ensuring the uniform application and interpretation of election laws throughout Texas. The Office of the Secretary of State also provides a repository for official and business and commercial records required to be filed with the Office. The Secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public. The Secretary also serves as keeper of the state seal
The Seal of the State of Texas was adopted through the 1845 Texas Constitution, and was based on the seal of the Republic of Texas, which dates from January 25, 1839.-Design:...
and attests to the Governor's signature on official documents.
The first Secretary of the Republic of Texas was Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...
. As of 2008 the Secretary of State is Hope Andrade.
The main Secretary of State offices are located at the James Earl Rudder State Office Building at 1019 Brazos Street in Austin
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...
; the main building handles business and public filings, statutory documents, Texas Administrative Code open meetings, and the UCC Texas Register. The SOS elections office resides on the third floor of the Thomas Jefferson Rusk State Office Building at 208 East 10th Street. The executive offices reside in Room 1E.8 in the Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol is located in Austin, Texas, and is the fourth building to be the house of Texas government in Austin. It houses the chambers of the Texas Legislature and the office of the governor of Texas. It was designed originally during 1881 by architect Elijah E. Myers, and was...
Constitutional duties of the office
The Secretary of State is named in the Texas Constitution as one of the six officers along with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor
, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Commissioner of the General Land Office, and Attorney General, who together make up the Executive Department. Of these offices all are elected by the voters in statewide elections, except the Secretary of State who is nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The Secretary of State is charged with administering the Texas Election Code, maintaining public filings and is keeper of the State Seal of Texas.
The Elections Division is responsible for administering the Texas Election Code, which governs all elections in Texas, as well as, voting systems, candidates, and political parties. The Elections Division also maintains more than 11 million voter registration records on behalf of the State.
To educate future Texas voters, the Division administers Project V.O.T.E. (Voters of Tomorrow through Education). Project V.O.T.E. is a curriculum taught to students K - 12 throughout Texas to educate young Texans about the electoral process and to encourage them to vote in the future.
Business and Public Filings Division
The Business and Public Filings Division consists of four different sections. These sections maintain filings and records related to Texas corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...
s, financial and banking transactions, executive branch commissions, Legislative mandates, and other public organizations.
The "Texas Register," a weekly administrative law journal that publishes a number of official state rules, meetings, opinions and proclamations, is published by this division.
Recently, Governor Perry
James Richard "Rick" Perry is the 47th and current Governor of Texas. A Republican, Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was elected to full...
has charged the Secretary of State's Office with two additional responsibilities not contained in the Texas Constitution. By Executive Order, the Secretary of State serves as the Governor's lead liaison for Texas Border and Mexican Affairs. In this capacity, the Secretary manages an array of issues that involve the Texas-Mexico border, and Texas' relations with Mexico.
The Governor has also issued an Executive Order which directs the Secretary to serve as the State's Chief International Protocol Officer. In this role, the Secretary receives international dignitaries and delegations on behalf of the Governor and the State of Texas and represents the Governor and the State of Texas at meetings and events with members of the international diplomatic corps.
History of the office
The first Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, was appointed by Texas President Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...
Since then, Texas became a state of the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
in 1845 and there have been 106 Secretaries of State.
State seal of Texas
There shall be a Seal of the State which shall be kept by the secretary of state, and used by him officially under the direction of the governor. The Seal of the State shall be a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, "The State of Texas." Texas Constitution, article IV, section 19.
The Secretary of State is the keeper of the Seal of the State of Texas. The state seal is required by law to be affixed to numerous documents, such as commissions for elected and appointed state and local officials; patents for land from the state; executive acts of the governor in criminal cases such as remissions of fines, reprieves, commutations of punishment, extraditions, and pardons; state bonds; and all official documents issued from the office of the secretary of state. By law the state seal also appears on gold and silver state coins; the Texas Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to citizens who have achieved conspicuous success while rendering outstanding service to the state; and all state aircraft except those used for law-enforcement purposes.
The secretary of state's office currently has six mechanical presses and dies used to affix the state seal as required by law.
Private use of the state seal, including the state arms and reverse of the state seal, is regulated by law. The state seal may be used for commercial purposes only if a license is obtained from the secretary of state and royalties are paid to the state. Additionally, it is a criminal offense for a person other than a political officeholder knowingly to use a representation of the state seal in political advertising.