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Can Ex-Convicts Run For Office In Texas?

State election law is unclear on what’s allowed. But it’s happened before in Houston

In Austin, former convict Lewis Conway Jr. is running for a seat on city council. Dallas just cleared the way for ex-cons to serve on city commissions. We decided to look at how this plays out in Houston.

Texas law is straightforward on voting rights for ex-convicts. Once someone has served his time and completed parole, he’s eligible to vote again.

But in terms of running for office, “Texas law is actually pretty ambiguous on this,” said Teddy Rave, who teaches election law at the University of Houston Law Center. “The [Office of the Texas] Secretary of State takes the position that this would require some sort of judicial order releasing the person from the resulting disabilities of the felony conviction.”

The closest parallels in Houston are Brad Batteau and John Gibbs, both of whom ran unsuccessfully for City Council. Batteau had a robbery conviction set aside by a judge after completing probation. Gibbs was indicted for felony assault, but avoided conviction through a plea deal.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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