Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 6. The Election

§ 24.2-649. Assistance for certain voters inside the polling place; penalties.

A. Any qualified voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of physical disability or inability to read or write may, if he so requests, be assisted in voting. If he is blind, he may designate an officer of election or any other person to assist him. If he is unable to read and write or disabled for any cause other than blindness, he may designate an officer of election or some other person to assist him other than the voter's employer or agent of that employer, or officer or agent of the voter's union.

The officer of election or other person so designated shall not enter the booth with the voter unless (i) the voter signs a request stating that he requires assistance by reason of physical disability or inability to read or write and (ii) the officer of election or other person signs a statement that he is not the voter's employer or an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union, and that he will act in accordance with the requirements of this section. The request and statement shall be on a single form furnished by the State Board. If the voter is unable to sign the request, his own mark acknowledged by him before an officer of election shall be sufficient signature, provided no mark shall be required of a voter who is blind. An officer of election shall advise the voter and person assisting the voter of the requirements of this section and record the name of the voter and the name and address of the person assisting him.

The officer of election or other person so designated shall assist the qualified voter in the preparation of his ballot in accordance with his instructions and without soliciting his vote or in any manner attempting to influence his vote and shall not in any manner divulge or indicate, by signs or otherwise, how the voter voted on any office or question. If a printed ballot is used, the officer or other person so designated shall deposit the ballot in the ballot container in accordance with § 24.2-646 or in the ballot scanner machine in accordance with the instructions of the State Board.

B. If the voter requires assistance in a language other than English and has not designated a person to assist him, an officer of election may assist as an interpreter, but shall first inquire of the representatives authorized to be present pursuant to § 24.2-604.4 whether they have a volunteer available who can interpret for the voter. One representative interpreter for each party or candidate, insofar as available, shall be permitted to observe the officer of election communicate with the voter. In any locality designated as a covered locality pursuant to § 24.2-128, the local electoral board shall ensure that interpretation services in the language of the applicable minority group are available and easily accessible to voters needing assistance pursuant to this subsection. The voter may designate one of the volunteer party or candidate interpreters to provide assistance. A person so designated by the voter shall meet all the requirements of this section for a person providing assistance.

C. A person who willfully violates subsection A or B is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, the provisions of § 24.2-1016 and its felony penalties for false statements shall be applicable to any request or statement signed pursuant to this section, and the provisions of §§ 24.2-704 and 24.2-1012 and the felony penalties for violations of the law related to providing assistance to absentee voters shall be applicable in such cases.

D. In any precinct in which an electronic voting machine is available that provides an audio ballot, the officers of election shall notify a voter requiring assistance pursuant to this section that such machine is available for him to use to vote in privacy without assistance and the officers of election shall instruct the voter on the use of the voting machine. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a voter to use the machine unassisted.

Code 1950, §§ 24-245, 24-251, 24-252, 24-310; 1950, c. 230; 1952, c. 581; 1962, c. 536; 1964, c. 593; 1969, Ex. Sess., c. 5; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-129, 24.1-132, 24.1-220; 1973, c. 30; 1975, c. 515; 1978, c. 778; 1984, cc. 234, 775; 1985, cc. 197, 458; 1986, c. 558; 1987, c. 349; 1988, c. 598; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2004, cc. 993, 1010; 2005, c. 569; 2006, c. 242; 2009, c. 809; 2014, cc. 540, 576; 2020, c. 561; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 163, 528, 533.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.