Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 1. General Provisions and Administration
12/5/2022

Article 2. State Board of Elections.

§ 24.2-102. Appointment; terms; Commissioner of Elections; prohibited activities.

A. The State Board of Elections is continued and shall consist of five members appointed by the Governor from the qualified voters of the Commonwealth, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. In the appointment of the Board, representation shall be given to each of the political parties having the highest and next highest number of votes in the Commonwealth for Governor at the last preceding gubernatorial election. Three Board members shall be of the political party that cast the highest number of votes for Governor at that election. When the Governor was not elected as the candidate of a political party, representation shall be given to each of the political parties having the highest and next highest number of members of the General Assembly at the time of the appointment and three Board members shall be of the political party having the highest number of members in the General Assembly. Each political party entitled to an appointment may make and file recommendations with the Governor for the appointment. Its recommendations shall contain the names of at least three qualified voters of the Commonwealth. Appointments shall be made with due consideration of geographical representation, and no two Board members shall reside in the same congressional district.

After the initial staggering of terms, Board members shall serve terms of four years, which shall begin on February 1 of the year of the appointment. Vacancies shall be filled for the unexpired terms. No member shall be eligible for more than two successive four-year terms. A member appointed for an unexpired term may be appointed for the two succeeding four-year terms.

Each year the Governor shall designate one Board member to be the chair of the Board and one Board member to be the vice-chair. The chair and vice-chair shall be members of opposite political parties.

No member of the Board shall be eligible to offer for or hold an office to be filled in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth. If a member resigns to offer for or hold such office, the vacancy shall be filled as provided in this section.

No member of the Board shall serve as the chairman of a state, local, or district level political party committee or as a paid or volunteer worker in the campaign of a candidate for nomination or election to an office filled by election in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth.

B. The Governor shall appoint a Commissioner of Elections, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, to head the Department of Elections and to act as its principal administrative officer. The Commissioner shall be appointed to a term of four years, which shall begin on July 1 of the year following a gubernatorial election. The Commissioner shall be a qualified voter of the Commonwealth.

The Commissioner shall receive the salary fixed by law. He may employ the personnel required to carry out the duties required by law and imposed by the Board.

The Commissioner shall not be eligible to offer for or hold an office to be filled in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth. His candidacy for or election to such office shall vacate his position as Commissioner, and the Governor shall fill the vacancy for the unexpired term.

The Governor shall not appoint as Commissioner (i) any person who is the spouse of a member of the Board or of a person seeking election to an office or holding an elective office that is filled in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth; (ii) any person, or the spouse of any person, who is the grandparent, parent, sibling, child, or grandchild of a member of the Board; or (iii) any person, or the spouse of any person, who is the grandparent, parent, sibling, child, or grandchild of a person seeking election to an office or holding an elective office that is filled in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth. The Commissioner shall submit his resignation to the Governor on the date that any such person files as a candidate for election to an office that is filled in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth.

The Commissioner shall not serve as the chairman of a state, local, or district level political party committee or as a paid or volunteer worker in the campaign of a candidate for nomination or election to an office filled by election in whole or in part by qualified voters in the Commonwealth.

Code 1950, §§ 24-24, 24-345.10; 1952, c. 509; 1956, c. 392; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-18; 1973, c. 30; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 576; 1980, c. 728; 1984, c. 444; 1993, c. 641; 2007, c. 350; 2013, c. 542; 2020, cc. 353, 619.

§ 24.2-103. Powers and duties in general; report.

A. The State Board, through the Department of Elections, shall supervise and coordinate the work of the county and city electoral boards and of the registrars to obtain uniformity in their practices and proceedings and legality and purity in all elections. Its supervision shall ensure that major risks to election integrity are (i) identified and assessed and (ii) addressed as necessary to promote election uniformity, legality, and purity. It shall make rules and regulations and issue instructions and provide information consistent with the election laws to the electoral boards and registrars to promote the proper administration of election laws. Electoral boards and registrars shall provide information requested by the State Board and shall follow (a) the elections laws and (b) the rules and regulations of the State Board insofar as they do not conflict with Virginia or federal law. The State Board shall post on the Internet within three business days any rules or regulations made by the State Board. Upon request and at a reasonable charge not to exceed the actual cost incurred, the State Board shall provide to any requesting political party or candidate, within three days of the receipt of the request, copies of any instructions or information provided by the State Board to the local electoral boards and registrars.

B. The State Board, through the Department of Elections, shall ensure that the members of the electoral boards are properly trained to carry out their duties by offering training annually, or more often, as it deems appropriate, and without charging any fees to the electoral boards for the training.

C. The State Board, through the Department of Elections, shall conduct a certification program for the general registrars and shall require each general registrar to receive certification through such program from the Department within 12 months of his initial appointment or any subsequent reappointment. The State Board may grant a waiver requested by a local electoral board to extend, on a case-by-case basis, this deadline by up to three months. The State Board shall develop a training curriculum for the certification program and standards for completing the program and maintaining certification, including required hours of annual training. No fees shall be charged to a general registrar for any required training as part of the certification program. The State Board shall review the certification program every four years, or more often as it deems appropriate.

D. The State Board shall set the training standards for the officers of election and shall develop standardized training programs for the officers of election to be conducted by the local electoral boards and the general registrars. Training of the officers of election shall be conducted and certified as provided by § 24.2-115.2. The State Board shall provide standardized training materials for such training and shall also offer on the Department of Elections website a training course for officers of election. The content of the online training course shall be consistent with the standardized training programs developed pursuant to this section. The State Board shall review the standardized training materials and the content of the online training course every two years in the year immediately following a general election for federal office.

E. The State Board may institute proceedings pursuant to § 24.2-234 for the removal of any member of an electoral board who fails to discharge the duties of his office in accordance with law. The State Board may petition the local electoral board to remove from office any general registrar who fails to discharge the duties of his office according to law. The State Board may institute proceedings pursuant to § 24.2-234 for the removal of a general registrar if the local electoral board refuses to remove the general registrar and the State Board finds that the failure to remove the general registrar has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of either the registrar's office or any election. Any action taken by the State Board pursuant to this subsection shall require a recorded majority vote of the Board.

F. The State Board may petition a circuit court or the Supreme Court, whichever is appropriate, for a writ of mandamus or prohibition, or other available legal relief, for the purpose of ensuring that elections are conducted as provided by law.

G. The Department of Elections shall supervise its own staff to assure that no member of its staff shall serve (i) as the chairman of a political party or other officer of a state-, local-, or district-level political party committee or (ii) as a paid or volunteer worker in the campaign of a candidate for nomination or election to an office filled by election in whole or in part by the qualified voters of the Commonwealth.

H. The Department of Elections shall employ a Director of Operations who shall be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations at the Department of Elections and ensuring (i) fulfillment of the Department's mission and responsibilities; (ii) compliance with state and federal election laws and regulations; and (iii) compliance with the Department's business, administrative, and financial policies. This position shall be a full-time classified position subject to the Virginia Personnel Act (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.).

I. The State Board shall adopt a seal for its use and bylaws for its own proceedings.

J. The State Board shall submit an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the activities of the State Board and the Department of Elections in the previous year. Such report shall be governed by the provisions of § 2.2-608.

Code 1950, §§ 24-24, 24-25, 24-345.10, 24-345.11; 1952, c. 509; 1956, c. 392; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-18, 24.1-19; 1973, c. 30; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 576; 1980, c. 728; 1984, c. 444; 1993, c. 641; 1999, c. 861; 2004, cc. 27, 391; 2006, c. 760; 2009, c. 407; 2010, cc. 347, 769; 2013, cc. 525, 542; 2016, cc. 752, 766; 2020, cc. 291, 353, 619, 1087, 1148.

§ 24.2-103.1. Duties of Department of Elections related to redistricting.

A. Upon receipt of any ordinance and Geographic Information System (GIS) map sent pursuant to § 24.2-304.3 or 24.2-306, the Department shall promptly review the ordinance and map and compare the boundaries contained within with the information in the voter registration system in order to ensure voters have been assigned to the correct districts. The Department shall notify the locality of any corrections that may be necessary.

B. The Department shall maintain and make available on its official website maps showing the current election district and precinct boundaries of each county and city.

2019, cc. 777, 778.

§ 24.2-103.2. Duties of the Department of Elections related to accessible absentee voting.

The Department shall make available to all localities a tool to allow a voter with a visual impairment or print disability to electronically and accessibly receive and mark his absentee ballot using screen reader assistive technology. The Department shall develop instructions regarding the use and availability of such tool, including instructions on making the tool available to voters and counting ballots voted with such tool.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 255, 471, 522.

§ 24.2-104. Requesting assistance for attorney for the Commonwealth; investigative committees.

A. The Attorney General shall have full authority to do whatever is necessary or appropriate to enforce the election laws or prosecute violations thereof. The Attorney General shall exercise the authority granted by this section to conduct an investigation, prosecute a violation, assure the enforcement of the elections laws, and report the results of the investigation to the State Board.

B. When the State Board is of the opinion that the public interest will be served, it may request the Attorney General, or other attorney designated by the Governor for such purpose, to assist the attorney for the Commonwealth of any jurisdiction in which election laws have been violated. When the State Board makes its request pursuant to a unanimous vote of all members, the Attorney General, or other attorney designated by the Governor, shall exercise the authority granted by this section to conduct an investigation, prosecute a violation, assure the enforcement of the election laws, and report the results of the investigation to the State Board. The Attorney General, or the other attorney designated by the Governor, shall have full authority to do whatever is necessary or appropriate to enforce the election laws or prosecute violations thereof.

C. The attorney for the Commonwealth or a member of the electoral board of any county or city may make a request, in writing, that the Attorney General appoint a committee to make an immediate investigation of the election practices in that city or county, accompanied by a statement under oath that substantial violations of this title have allegedly occurred which may alter or have altered the outcome of an election. On receipt of the request and statement, the Attorney General shall forthwith appoint a committee of two or more persons qualified to make the investigation. Members, officers, and employees of the Board, local electoral boards, and registrars' offices shall not serve on the committee but may provide assistance to the committee.

The Attorney General shall direct the committee to observe, investigate or supervise the election if supervision appears necessary. The committee shall make a preliminary report to the Attorney General within five days of its appointment. If its report shows that violations of this title have occurred, the Attorney General may, notwithstanding any other provision of law, authorize the prosecution of those responsible for the violations.

Code 1950, § 24-27; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-21; 1989, c. 111; 1993, c. 641; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2013, c. 768.

§ 24.2-104.1. Civil actions by Attorney General.

A. Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of an election law has occurred and that the rights of any voter or group of voters have been affected by such violation, the Attorney General may commence a civil action in the appropriate circuit court for appropriate relief.

B. In such civil action, the court may:

1. Award such preventive relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order against the person responsible for a violation of this title, as is necessary to assure the full enjoyment of the rights granted by this title.

2. Assess a civil penalty against the respondent (i) in an amount not exceeding $50,000 for a first violation and (ii) in an amount not exceeding $100,000 for any subsequent violation. Such civil penalties are payable to the Voter Education and Outreach Fund established pursuant to § 24.2-131.

3. Award a prevailing plaintiff reasonable attorney fees and costs.

C. The court or jury may award such other relief to the aggrieved person as the court deems appropriate, including compensatory damages and punitive damages.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 528, 533.

§ 24.2-105. Prescribing various forms.

A. The State Board shall prescribe appropriate forms and records for the registration of voters, conduct of elections, and implementation of this title, which shall be used throughout the Commonwealth.

B. The State Board shall prescribe voting and election materials in languages other than English for use by a county, city, or town that is subject to the requirements of § 24.2-128. For purposes of this subsection, voting and election materials mean registration or voting notices, forms, and instructions. For purposes of this subsection, registration notices mean any notice of voter registration approval, denial, or cancellation, required by the provisions of Chapter 4 (§ 24.2-400 et seq.).

The State Board may make available voting and election materials in any additional languages other than those required by subsection A of § 24.2-128 as it deems necessary and appropriate. The State Board may accept voting and election materials translated by volunteers but shall verify the accuracy of such translations prior to making the translated materials available to a county, city, or town, or any voter.

Code 1950, § 24-28; 1968, c. 97; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-22; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 247; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 490; 1993, c. 641; 2020, c. 719; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 528, 533.

§ 24.2-105.1. Election and voter participation information on the Internet.

Beginning with the general election in November 1998, the State Board shall implement a system by which it shall furnish lists of candidates for all elections in the Commonwealth, and information on proposed constitutional amendments and statewide referenda prepared pursuant to §§ 30-19.9 and 30-19.10, electronically through the Internet. The Board may list other referenda issues on the Internet. The lists and information shall be made available on the Internet as far in advance of the election as practicable and remain available on the Internet at least until the day after the election.

The State Board shall provide election results and statistical information on its website. The information shall include voter turnout information which shall be calculated as the percentage of active voters who voted excluding voters assigned to inactive status pursuant to Chapter 4 (§ 24.2-400 et seq.). The information shall also include the total number of registered voters and the number assigned to inactive status.

1998, c. 478; 2006, c. 474; 2007, c. 340.

§ 24.2-105.2. Acceptance of payments.

Any credit or debit card used to pay for any voter list must be in the name of a person or organization authorized to receive such list pursuant to § 24.2-405.

2000, cc. 510, 554; 2002, c. 719.