Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
9/25/2022

Chapter 70. Absentee Voting

1VAC20-70-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Application for an absentee ballot" means an application for an absentee ballot submitted on any form approved for that purpose according to federal and state laws. The term includes a Virginia Absentee Ballot Application (SBE-701) and a Virginia Annual Absentee Ballot Application (SBE-703.1).

"Envelope B" means the envelope required by § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia which identifies the voter.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 18, eff. April 18, 2012; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 1, eff. August 24, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 22, eff. June 10, 2014.

1VAC20-70-20. Material omissions from absentee ballots.

A. Pursuant to the requirements of § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia, a timely received absentee ballot contained in an Envelope B shall not be rendered invalid if it contains an error or omission not material to its proper processing.

B. The following omissions are always material and any Envelope B containing such omissions shall be rendered invalid if any of the following exists:

1. Except as provided in subdivisions C 2 and C 3 of this section, the voter did not include his full first name;

2. The voter did not provide his last name;

3. The voter omitted his generational suffix when one or more individuals with the same name are registered at the same address, and it is impossible to determine the identity of the voter;

4. The voter did not provide his house number and street name or his rural route address;

5. The voter did not provide either his city or zip code;

6. The voter did not sign Envelope B; or

7. The voter's witness did not sign Envelope B, except during a declared state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat pursuant to § 24.2-707 of the Code of Virginia.

C. The ballot shall not be rendered invalid if on the Envelope B:

1. The voter included his full name in an order other than "last, first, middle";

2. The voter used his first initial instead of his first full name, so long as the voter provided his full middle name;

3. The voter provided a derivative of his legal name as his first or middle name (e.g., "Bob" instead of "Robert");

4. If the voter provided his first name and last name, the voter did not provide a middle name or a middle initial;

5. The voter did not provide his residential street identifier (Street, Drive, etc.);

6. The voter did not provide a zip code, so long as the voter provided his city;

7. The voter did not provide his city, so long as the voter provided his zip code;

8. The voter omitted the date, or provided an incorrect or incomplete date on which he signed Envelope B; or

9. The ballot is imperfectly sealed within Envelope B, provided that the outer envelope with Envelope B and the ballot arrived sealed.

10. The illegibility of a voter's or witness' signature on an Envelope B shall not be considered an omission or error.

D. For the purposes of this regulation, "city" may include the voter's locality, town, or any acceptable mailing name for the five-digit zip code of the voter's residence.

E. Whether an error or omission on an Envelope B not specifically addressed by this regulation is material and shall render the absentee ballot invalid shall be determined by a majority of the officers of the election present.

F. If a ballot is received by the general registrar's office by noon on the third day after the election pursuant to § 24.2-709 of the Code of Virginia but the return envelope has a missing or illegible postmark, the General Registrar shall refer to the Intelligent Mail barcode on the return envelope to determine whether the ballot was mailed on or before the date of the relevant election.

1. If there is evidence from the Intelligent Mail barcode that the ballot was mailed after the close of polls for the relevant election, the ballot shall be rendered invalid.

2. If there is no evidence from the Intelligent Mail barcode that the ballot was mailed after the close of polls for the relevant election, but the return envelope has an illegible postmark, the General Registrar shall refer to the date on which the oath on Envelope B was signed to determine whether the ballot was cast on or before the date of the relevant election.

3. If there is no evidence from the Intelligent Mail barcode that the ballot was mailed after the close of polls for the relevant election and if the return envelope has a missing postmark, the ballot shall be rendered invalid.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 17, eff. April 3, 2012; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 23, eff. June 26, 2013; Volume 31, Issue 2, eff. September 4, 2014; Volume 37, Issue 6, eff. October 23, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 21, eff. June 4, 2021; Volume 38, Issue 10, eff. December 21, 2021.

1VAC20-70-30. (Repealed.)

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 27, Issue 16, eff. March 28, 2011; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 23, eff. June 26, 2013; repealed, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 22, eff. June 10, 2014.

1VAC20-70-40. Alternative processing procedures for absentee ballots returned before election day.

Each general registrar in taking the measures as needed to expedite counting absentee ballots under § 24.2-709.1 of the Code of Virginia shall ensure that:

1. The general registrar staff assigned follow the instructions in this section for processing and verifying absentee ballots.

2. Each locality holds a mandatory pre-processing meeting on the seventh day immediately preceding the election and on either the Friday or Saturday immediately preceding the election. At each of those pre-processing meetings, the general registrar's office should pre-process all absentee ballots that were in their office's possession at the beginning of that day.

3. In the event that the general registrar's office is unable to process all ballots in their possession on the morning of either the Friday or Saturday before election day, then the general registrar's office should hold a final pre-processing meeting on the Monday immediately preceding the election.

4. All absentee ballots are secured at the end of each day following principles of dual control and chain of custody.

5. The general registrar staff assigned follow carefully all the requirements of § 24.2-709.1 of the Code of Virginia, including the requirement that at least two officers of election, one representing each party, be present during all hours that the expedited procedures are used.

6. Notice is given to the local political party chairs of the times and places for processing absentee ballots in sufficient time to allow for the authorized party representatives to be present.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 18, eff. April 18, 2012; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 23, eff. July 1, 2013; Volume 38, Issue 19, eff. May 6, 2022.

1VAC20-70-50. Version; applicable law..

An application on any version of an approved absentee ballot application form shall be accepted based on the laws in effect at the time of the election for which the voter is applying.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 18, eff. April 18, 2012.

1VAC20-70-60. Security requirements for absentee satellite offices.

A. To guarantee that their facilities are adequate for the protection of all election materials and voting systems, each locality that operates a satellite office pursuant to § 24.2-701.2 of the Code of Virginia must comply with the following:

1. Each satellite office must maintain an adequate number of ballots of each ballot style from all precincts within its locality.

2. Each satellite office must balance its voter credit records nightly by reconciling the public count with the electronic pollbook count at the end of each day.

3. Each satellite office must have reliable internet connectivity for the entire in-person absentee voting period. Here, "reliable" means that the connection meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology standards and that the likelihood of connectivity interruptions is low.

4. Computer systems at the satellite office locations will be directly connected to the Virginia Electronic Registration Information System (VERIS). Electronic pollbooks connected to the cloud or to a virtual private network (VPN) will be linked to each other across various satellite office locations as well as the General Registrar's office. Voter credit will be uploaded into VERIS at the end of each day, and updated files will be uploaded at the beginning of each day to the electronic pollbooks.

5. Each satellite office must be equipped such that it can (i) confirm that any attempted voter is eligible to vote in that election; (ii) confirm that any attempted voter has not previously voted in the election; and (iii) record each voter's participation in the election in real time.

B. To comply with these requirements, localities must submit a list of all expected satellite office locations no more than 90 days before and no less than 60 days before election day. Additionally, each locality must complete a readiness checklist for each satellite office location and submit the completed readiness checklist to the Department of Elections. The readiness checklist will be promulgated by the Department of Elections. The Department of Elections may deny a satellite office's ability to connect to VERIS or an electronic pollbook if a locality fails to timely complete the readiness checklist.

C. No later than 60 days before election day, each locality will provide the final address of each of its satellite offices to the Department of Elections. Eight days before absentee voting begins at a satellite location, the locality will conduct a test to validate internet connectivity for that location and submit confirmation of connectivity to the Department of Elections. Continued failure means that the Department of Elections will not grant the satellite office access to VERIS or authorize the use of a connected electronic pollbook. A satellite office that cannot meet these internet connectivity standards before absentee voting begins at that office may apply for an emergency location change under subsection F of § 24.2-701.2 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 37, Issue 6, eff. October 23, 2020.

1VAC20-70-70. Mandatory mailing elements on absentee ballot envelopes.

A. For the purposes of this regulation, the following words and terms have the following meanings:

"Outer absentee envelope" means the envelope containing the materials referred to in § 24.2-706 B 3 of the Code of Virginia.

"Special insignia" and "insignia" mean the Official Election Mail logo registered by the United States Postal Service with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

B. All general registrars must place intelligent mail barcodes on both the outer absentee envelope and on the return envelope.

C. Both the outer absentee envelope and return envelope must include a special insignia to identify Official Election Mail. The Department of Elections will ensure the proper insignia is available to the general registrars of each county and city.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 37, Issue 6, eff. October 21, 2020.

1VAC20-70-80. Absentee ballot witness signatures during qualifying state of emergency.

A. "Declared state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat" or "state of emergency" means a state of emergency declared by the Governor of Virginia pursuant to the Governor's authority under Article V, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia in response to a communicable disease of public health threat, as defined in § 44-146.16 of the Code of Virginia.

B. If such a state of emergency is declared prior to the start of in-person absentee voting under § 24.2-701.1 of the Code of Virginia for an election and is ongoing at the beginning of the in-person absentee voting period, then a witness signature is not required on any absentee ballot otherwise validly submitted for that election. This rule applies to all absentee ballots submitted for that election, including any absentee ballot submitted after the state of emergency has ended.

C. If the Governor of Virginia declares such a state of emergency during the in-person absentee voting period preceding Election Day, no absentee ballot returned after such declaration of state of emergency requires a witness signature. This rule applies to any absentee ballots submitted after the state of emergency has ended.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-707 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 1, eff. August 11, 2021.

1VAC20-70-90. Requirements for third parties mailing and assembling absentee ballots.

A. Any agreement between a general registrar and a third party for the printing, assembling, and mailing of the items described in § 24.2-706 C of the Code of Virginia pursuant to § 24.2-706 D of the Code of Virginia must comply with the terms of this section.

B. To ensure the secure and timely delivery of voter information to third parties, general registrars must comply with the following:

1. General registrars shall not provide any voter information to a third party contracted with under § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia except for the information stated in § 24.2-706 D of the Code of Virginia and the minimum information necessary to timely print, assemble, or mail the documents listed under § 24.2-706 C of the Code of Virginia.

2. In sending the names, addresses, precincts, and ballot styles of voters to a third party, the general registrar will comply with the timelines established under § 24.2-612 of the Code of Virginia and any timelines issued by the Department of Elections.

3. In sending the names, addresses, precincts, ballot styles, and other necessary voter information to a third party, the general registrar will comply with any information security standards set by the Department of Elections.

4. As a security measure, general registrars shall use the data export file provided by the Department of Elections for the purpose of contracting with a third party under § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia.

5. General registrars are responsible for keeping a copy of any agreement with a third party made pursuant to § 24.2-706 D of the Code of Virginia for the duration of the agreement plus an additional two years. These copies may be stored either in a hard copy or electronically.

6. The general registrar is ultimately responsible for guaranteeing compliance with all relevant requirements under the Code of Virginia, including the requirements of §§ 24.2-612 and 24.2-706.

7. Upon forming a contract with a third party for the purpose of this section, the general registrar will provide the Department of Elections with a copy of the signed contract.

C. To ensure timely reports of mailed absentee ballots from third parties, any agreement with a third party pursuant to § 24.2-706 D of the Code of Virginia shall include the following terms:

1. A party contracted for the printing, assembly, or mailing of absentee ballots is responsible for meeting all relevant deadlines under §§ 24.2-612 and 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia.

2. A party contracted for the printing, assembly, or mailing of absentee ballots shall not use voter information relating to those absentee ballots for any reason other than those permitted under § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia.

3. A party contracted for the mailing of absentee ballots under § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia is responsible for obtaining ballot artwork by means designated by the Department of Elections.

4. A party contracted for the mailing of absentee ballots under § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia is responsible for obtaining a certificate or other evidence of either first class or expedited mailing or delivery from the U.S. Postal Service or other commercial delivery provider in accordance with § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia.

5. A party printing, assembling, or mailing the materials listed in § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia shall sign a statement before the work is commenced agreeing, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016 of the Code of Virginia, that the party will print, assemble, and mail, as applicable, the ballots requested by the general registrar in accordance with the instructions given by the general registrar and meet all relevant requirements of sections §§ 24.2-612 and § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia.

6. A party mailing absentee ballots pursuant to § 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia must provide a status report within 24 hours of the general registrar sending an absentee voter data file to the third party. The third party must confirm the mailing of absentee ballots to the general registrar within 48 hours of the general registrar sending an absentee voter data file.

7. The contract between the general registrar and the third party will include penalties for a third party delay in mailing absentee ballots.

Statutory Authority

§ 24.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 1, eff. August 10, 2021.

FORMS (1VAC20-70).

Annual Absentee Ballot Application, SBE-703.1 (rev. 7/13)

Virginia Absentee Ballot Application Form, SBE-701 (rev. 7/13)

Envelope B - Ballot - Statement of Absentee Voter (undated)

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