Dick Smith and Laurie E. Jasinski

SECRETARY OF STATE. The office of secretary of state was established by Article IV, Sections 1 and 21, of the Constitution of 1876. It began as a state office established by the Constitution of 1845, superseding a similar office in the Republic of Texas. The secretary of state is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate and serves for four years. The major duties of the office are to attest the governor's signature and affix the state seal to proclamations, commissions to office, and other official documents; keep a file of the official acts of the governor and the legislature, compile and publish the laws, keep a roster of all elective and appointive officers in the state; administer the primary and election laws as chief election officer; issue charters of incorporation; assess and collect the franchise tax on corporations; administer the laws concerning the sale of securities, and appoint the notaries public. The responsibilities of the secretary of state are carried out under four divisions: Elections, Statutory Filings, Support Services, and Data Services. The Elections Division oversees matters involving election laws, voter registration, and functions as the authority with whom petitions are filed. A Disclosure Filings Section files financial disclosure statements, reports of lobbyists, and campaign contribution reports among other election-related documents for public access. The Statutory Filings Division is responsible for issuing charters to corporations, appointing notaries public, filing federal liens, and publishing government rules and reports in the Texas Register and the Texas Administrative Code. These responsibilities are assumed within four sections of the division: Corporations, Publications, Statutory Documents, and Uniform Commercial Code. The Support Services Division provides all financial control for the other divisions in the office of the secretary of state, while the Data Services Division provides administrative and computational. In 1991 the office of the secretary of state had an operating budget of over $7 million. It employed more than 200 people.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Dick Smith and Laurie E. Jasinski, "SECRETARY OF STATE," accessed July 22, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox