Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 2. Federal, Commonwealth, and Local Officers
12/6/2021

Chapter 2. Federal, Commonwealth, and Local Officers.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 24.2-200. When terms to begin.

The terms of all officers chosen at a November general election shall begin on the January 1 succeeding their election unless otherwise provided in this chapter. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the terms of all officers elected at a May general election shall begin on the July 1 succeeding their election. They shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices until their successors qualify.

Code 1950, §§ 24-142, 24-169; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-73; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-201. When term of officer elected to fill vacancy commences and expires.

The term of office of any person chosen at a special election to fill a vacancy in any public office shall commence as soon as he shall qualify and give bond, if bond is required, and shall continue for the unexpired term of such office. Any person so elected shall qualify and give bond, if bond is required, no later than thirty days following the date on which the special election was held.

Code 1950, § 24-144; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-75; 1982, c. 146; 1993, c. 641.

Article 2. Federal Offices.

§ 24.2-202. Electors for President and Vice President.

The qualified voters of the Commonwealth shall choose the Commonwealth's electors for President and Vice President of the United States at the general election in November 1996, and every fourth year thereafter. Each voter shall vote for a number of electors which equals the whole number of senators and representatives to which the Commonwealth at that time is entitled in the Congress of the United States.

Code 1950, § 24-7; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-8; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-203. Convening of electors; filling vacancies; how electors required to vote.

The electors shall convene at the capitol building in the capital city of the Commonwealth at 12:00 noon on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following their election. Those electors present shall immediately fill, by ballot and by a plurality of votes, any vacancy due to death, failure or inability to attend, refusal to act, or other cause. When all electors are present, or the vacancies have been filled, they shall proceed to perform the duties required of such electors by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Electors selected by the state convention of any political party as defined in § 24.2-101 shall be required to vote for the nominees of the national convention to which the state convention elects delegates. Electors named in any petition of qualified voters as provided in § 24.2-543 shall be required to vote for the persons named for President and for Vice President in the petition.

Code 1950, §§ 24-8, 24-9, 24-290.6; 1962, c. 536; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-9, 24.1-162; 1993, c. 641; 2001, c. 630.

§ 24.2-204. Election of electors and meeting when Congress prescribes a different day.

If Congress establishes a different day for choosing electors, or appoints a different day for their meeting to give their votes, then the election shall be held and the meeting of the electors take place on those days.

Code 1950, §§ 24-8, 24-9; 1962, c. 536; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-9; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-205. Pay of electors.

Each elector shall receive the sum of fifty dollars per day while actually engaged in the discharge of his official duties and the same mileage as is allowed to members of the General Assembly.

Code 1950, § 24-10; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-10; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-206. Election and term of United States Senators.

The qualified voters of the Commonwealth shall elect its members of the United States Senate at the general election held in November next preceding the expiration of each member's respective term of office, for terms of six years to begin on the January 3 following their election.

Code 1950, § 24-1; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-2; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-207. Filling vacancies in Senate.

When any vacancy occurs in the representation of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States Senate, the Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. The election shall be held on the next succeeding November general election date or, if the vacancy occurs within 120 days prior to that date, on the second succeeding November general election date. The Governor may make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy until the qualified voters fill the same by election.

Code 1950, § 24-2; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-3; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-208. Election and term of members of House of Representatives.

The qualified voters of each congressional district shall elect one member of the United States House of Representatives at the general election in November 1994, and every second year thereafter, for the term of two years to begin on the January 3 following his election.

Code 1950, § 24-5; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-6; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-209. Filling vacancies in House of Representatives.

When any vacancy occurs in the representation of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the House of Representatives, or when a representative-elect dies or resigns, the Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy. Upon receipt of written notification by a representative or representative-elect of his resignation as of a stated date, the Governor may immediately issue a writ to call the election. The representative's or representative-elect's resignation shall not be revocable after the date stated by him for his resignation or after the forty-fifth day before the date set for the special election.

Code 1950, § 24-6; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-7; 1983, c. 461; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2010, cc. 449, 645.

Article 3. Statewide Offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.

§ 24.2-210. Election and term of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.

The qualified voters of the Commonwealth shall elect the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General at the general election in November 1997, and every fourth year thereafter for terms of four years, to commence on the Saturday after the second Wednesday in January following their election.

The person having the highest number of votes for each office shall be declared elected. If two or more have the highest and an equal number of votes for an office, one of them shall be chosen for the office by a majority of the total membership of the General Assembly.

Code 1950, §§ 24-148, 24-149; 1962, c. 536; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-80, 24.1-81; 1971, Ex. Sess., cc. 119, 131; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-211. Discharge of duties when office of Governor is vacant or Governor is disabled.

When the Governor-elect is disqualified, resigns, or dies following his election but prior to taking office, the Lieutenant Governor-elect shall succeed to the office of Governor for the full term. When the Governor-elect fails to assume office for any other reason, the Lieutenant Governor-elect shall serve as acting Governor.

Whenever the Governor transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Lieutenant Governor as acting Governor.

Whenever the Attorney General, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, or a majority of the total membership of the General Assembly, transmit to the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Delegates their written declaration that the Governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Lieutenant Governor shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting Governor.

Thereafter, when the Governor transmits to the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Delegates his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Attorney General, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, or a majority of the total membership of the General Assembly, transmit within four days to the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Delegates their written declaration that the Governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon the General Assembly shall decide the issue, convening within forty-eight hours for that purpose, if not already in session. If within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter declaration or, if the General Assembly is not in session, within twenty-one days after the General Assembly is required to convene, the General Assembly determines by three-fourths vote of the elected membership of each house of the General Assembly that the Governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor; otherwise, the Governor shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

In the case of the removal of the Governor from office or in the case of his disqualification, death or resignation, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor.

If a vacancy exists in the office of Lieutenant Governor when the Lieutenant Governor is to succeed to the office of Governor or to serve as acting Governor, the Attorney General, if he is eligible to serve as Governor, shall succeed to the office of Governor for the unexpired term or serve as acting Governor. If the Attorney General is ineligible to serve as Governor, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, if he is eligible to serve as Governor, shall succeed to the office of Governor. If a vacancy exists in the office of the Speaker of the House of Delegates or if the Speaker of the House of Delegates is ineligible to serve as Governor, the House of Delegates shall convene and fill the vacancy.

Code 1950, § 24-150; 1960, c. 488; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-82; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 165; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-212. Discharge of duties when office of Lieutenant Governor vacant.

When a vacancy occurs in the office of Lieutenant Governor, the duties of that office shall be discharged by the President pro tempore of the Senate, but he shall not by reason thereof be deprived of his right to act and vote as a member of the Senate.

Code 1950, § 24-152; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-84; 1973, c. 30; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-213. Filling vacancy in office of Attorney General.

If a vacancy occurs in the office of Attorney General during the session of the General Assembly, the General Assembly shall fill the vacancy by a majority vote of the total membership. If a vacancy occurs during a recess of the General Assembly, the Governor shall appoint a successor to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term or until the end of thirty days after the commencement of the next session of the General Assembly, whichever happens first. At that next session, the General Assembly shall fill the vacancy by election by a majority vote of the total membership for the unexpired portion of the term.

Code 1950, § 24-153; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-85; 1993, c. 641.

Article 4. General Assembly.

§ 24.2-214. Election and term of Senators.

The members of the Senate of Virginia shall be elected at the general election in November 1995, and every four years thereafter for terms of four years, to begin on the second Wednesday in January succeeding their election.

Code 1950, § 24-13; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-13; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-215. Election and term of members of the House of Delegates.

The members of the House of Delegates shall be elected at the general election in November 1995, and every two years thereafter for terms of two years, to begin on the second Wednesday in January succeeding their election.

Code 1950, § 24-11; 1958, c. 333; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-11; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-216. Filling vacancies in the General Assembly.

When a vacancy occurs in the membership of the General Assembly during the recess of the General Assembly or when a member-elect to the next General Assembly dies, resigns, or becomes legally incapacitated to hold office prior to its meeting, the Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy occurs during the session of the General Assembly, the Speaker of the House of Delegates or the President pro tempore of the Senate, as the case may be, shall issue the writ unless the respective house by rule or resolution shall provide otherwise. Upon receipt of written notification by a member or member-elect of his resignation as of a stated date, the Governor, Speaker, or President Pro Tempore, as the case may be, may immediately issue the writ to call the election. The member's or member-elect's resignation shall not be revocable after the date stated by him for his resignation or after the forty-fifth day before the date set for the special election.

The writ shall be directed to the secretaries of the electoral boards and the general registrars of the respective counties and cities composing the district for which the election is to be held.

Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no election to fill a vacancy shall be ordered or held if the general or special election at which it is to be called is scheduled within 75 days of the end of the term of the office to be filled.

Code 1950, § 24-16; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-16; 1983, c. 461; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

Article 5. Constitutional and Local Officers.

§ 24.2-217. Election and terms of constitutional officers.

The qualified voters of each county shall elect a sheriff, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a treasurer, and a commissioner of the revenue at the general election in November 1995, and every four years thereafter unless a county has adopted an optional form of government which provides that the office be abolished or a county's charter so provides. The qualified voters of each city, unless its charter provides otherwise, shall elect a sheriff, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a treasurer, and a commissioner of the revenue at the general election in November 1997, and every four years thereafter. All shall hold office for a term of four years beginning the January 1 next succeeding their election.

The qualified voters of the several counties shall elect a clerk of the circuit court of the county at the general election in November 1999, and every eight years thereafter. The qualified voters of each city having a circuit court shall elect a clerk of the circuit court at the November 1995, general election and every eight years thereafter. They shall hold office for a term of eight years beginning the January 1 next succeeding their election.

If a county and city share any of the offices to which this section applies, the qualified voters of the city shall cast their votes for that office according to the schedule set forth above for counties.

Code 1950, §§ 24-154, 24-155, 24-161, 24-162, 24-167; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-86, 24.1-87; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1979, c. 522; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-218. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Election and term of county supervisors.

The qualified voters of each county election district shall elect one or more supervisors at the general election in November 1995, and every four years thereafter for terms of four years, except as provided in § 24.2-219 or as provided by law for those counties having the optional form of government under the provisions of Article 2 (§ 15.2-702 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 15.2.

Code 1950, § 24-157; 1968, c. 639; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-88; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 265; 1973, c. 30; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 12; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-218. (Effective January 1, 2022) Election and term of county supervisors.

A. The qualified voters of each county election district shall elect one or more supervisors at the general election in November 1995, and every four years thereafter for terms of four years, except as provided in § 24.2-219 or as provided by law for those counties having the optional form of government under the provisions of Article 2 (§ 15.2-702 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 15.2.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, in a county that imposes district-based or ward-based residency requirements for members of the board of supervisors, the member elected from each district or ward shall be elected by the qualified voters of that district or ward and not by the county at large.

Code 1950, § 24-157; 1968, c. 639; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-88; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 265; 1973, c. 30; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 12; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 225.

§ 24.2-219. Alternative for biennial county supervisor elections and staggered terms.

A. The governing body of any county may by ordinance provide that the county board of supervisors be elected biennially for staggered four-year terms.

In lieu of an ordinance by the board of supervisors, the registered voters of the county may file a petition with the circuit court of the county requesting that a referendum be held on the question of whether the county board of supervisors should be elected biennially for staggered four-year terms. The petition shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least ten percent of the number registered in the county on the January 1 preceding its filing.

The court pursuant to §§ 24.2-682 and 24.2-684 shall order the election officials on a day fixed in the order to conduct a referendum on the question. The clerk of the court shall publish notice of the referendum in a newspaper having general circulation in the county once a week for four consecutive weeks and shall post a copy of the notice at the door of the courthouse of the county. The question on the ballot shall be:

"Shall the members of the county board of supervisors be elected biennially for staggered four-year terms?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

The referendum shall be held and the results certified as provided in § 24.2-684.

B. If a majority of the voters voting in the referendum voted for biennial election of the members of the board of supervisors for staggered four-year terms, or if the governing body has so provided by ordinance, then the terms of supervisors elected at the next general election for supervisors shall be as follows:

1. If the number of supervisors elected in the county is an even number, half of the successful candidates shall be elected for terms of four years and half of the successful candidates shall be elected for terms of two years; or

2. If the number of supervisors in the county is an odd number, the smallest number of candidates which creates a majority of the elected supervisors shall be elected for terms of four years and all other successful candidates shall be elected for terms of two years.

Unless the number of members who volunteer to take two-year terms exactly equals the number of two-year terms to be assigned, the electoral board of the county shall assign the individual terms of members by lot at its meeting on the day following the election and immediately upon certification of the results. However, the electoral board may assign individual terms of members by election district in a drawing at a meeting held prior to the last day for a person to qualify as a candidate, if the governing body of the county so directs by ordinance or resolution adopted at least thirty days prior to the last day for qualification and members are elected by district. In all elections thereafter all successful candidates shall be elected for terms of four years.

In any county where the chairman of the board is elected from the county at large pursuant to § 15.2-503 or § 15.2-802, the provisions of this section shall not affect that office. The chairman of the board shall be elected for a term of four years in 1995 and every four years thereafter.

C. If the representation on the board of supervisors among the election districts is reapportioned, or the number of districts is diminished or the boundaries of the districts are changed, elections shall be held in each new district at the general election next preceding the expiration of the term of the office of the member of the board representing the predecessor district of each new district. If the number of districts is increased, the electoral board shall assign a two-year or four-year term for each new district so as to maintain as equal as practicable the number of members to be elected at each biennial election.

Code 1950, § 24-157; 1968, c. 639; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-88; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 265; 1973, c. 30; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 12; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641; 2011, c. 455.

§ 24.2-220. Reversion to quadrennial elections.

The governing body of any county, by ordinance, may repeal an ordinance previously adopted to provide for the election of the board of supervisors biennially for staggered four-year terms and provide for the election of the board of supervisors quadrennially for four-year terms. The qualified voters of the county, by petition and referendum in accordance with the requirements and procedures set forth in § 24.2-219, may repeal an ordinance of the board or a referendum previously adopted which authorized the election of the board of supervisors biennially for four-year terms. The question in the referendum to rescind shall be:

"Shall the members of the county board of supervisors be elected quadrennially for four-year terms?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

If a majority of the voters voting in the referendum voted for quadrennial election of the members of the board of supervisors for four-year terms, or if the governing body has so provided by ordinance, then the successors to those supervisors whose terms expire in 1995 or any fourth year thereafter shall be elected for a four-year term and immediate successors to those supervisors whose terms expire in 1993 or any fourth year thereafter shall be elected for a two-year term and all subsequent successors for a four-year term.

Code 1950, § 24-157; 1968, c. 639; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-88; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 265; 1973, c. 30; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 12; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-221. Time and frequency of referenda on election and term of supervisors.

A referendum as provided in § 24.2-219 or § 24.2-220 shall be held only in the year preceding the year in which a general election for supervisors is to be held. Once a referendum on either question is held, no further referendum on either question may be held in the county for a period of four years.

Code 1950, § 24-157; 1968, c. 639; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-88; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 265; 1973, c. 30; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 12; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-222. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Election and terms of mayor and council for cities and towns.

The qualified voters of each city and town shall elect a mayor, if so provided by charter, and a council for the terms provided by charter. Except as provided in § 24.2-222.1, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special: (i) any election of mayor or councilmen of a city or town whose charter provides for such elections at two-year or four-year intervals shall take place at the May general election of an even-numbered year and (ii) any election of mayor or councilmen of a city or town whose charter provides for such elections at one-year or three-year intervals shall take place at the general election in May of the years designated by charter. The persons so elected shall enter upon the duties of their offices on July 1 succeeding their election and remain in office until their successors have qualified.

Code 1950, §§ 24-160, 24-168; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-90; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 747; 1993, c. 641; 2000, c. 1045.

§ 24.2-222. (Effective January 1, 2022) Election and terms of mayor and council for cities and towns.

A. The qualified voters of each city and town shall elect a mayor, if so provided by charter, and a council for the terms provided by charter. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, in a city or town that imposes district-based or ward-based residency requirements for members of the city or town council, the member elected from each district or ward shall be elected by the qualified voters of that district or ward and not by the locality at large.

B. Except as provided in § 24.2-222.1, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special: (i) any election of mayor or councilmen of a city or town whose charter provides for such elections at two-year or four-year intervals shall take place at the May general election of an even-numbered year and (ii) any election of mayor or councilmen of a city or town whose charter provides for such elections at one-year or three-year intervals shall take place at the general election in May of the years designated by charter. The persons so elected shall enter upon the duties of their offices on July 1 succeeding their election and remain in office until their successors have qualified.

Code 1950, §§ 24-160, 24-168; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-90; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 747; 1993, c. 641; 2000, c. 1045; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 225.

§ 24.2-222.1. Alternative election of mayor and council at November general election in cities and towns.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 24.2-222, and notwithstanding any contrary provisions of a city or town charter, the council of a city or town may provide by ordinance that the mayor, if an elected mayor is provided for by charter, and council shall be elected at the November general election date of any cycle as designated in the ordinance, for terms to commence January 1. No such ordinance shall be adopted between January 1 and the May general election date of the year in which city or town elections regularly are scheduled to be held therein.

B. Alternatively, the registered voters of a city or town may file a petition with the circuit court of the city or of the county within which the town is located asking that a referendum be held on the question of whether the city or town should elect the mayor, if an elected mayor is provided for by charter, and council members at the November general election date of any cycle as designated in the petition. The petition shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least ten percent of the number registered in the city or town on the January 1 preceding the filing.

The court, pursuant to § 24.2-684, shall order the election officials on a day fixed in the order to conduct a referendum on the question, provided that no such referendum shall be scheduled between January 1 and the May general election date of the year in which city or town elections regularly are scheduled to be held therein. The clerk of the court shall publish notice of the referendum once a week for the three consecutive weeks prior to the referendum in a newspaper having general circulation in the city or town, and shall post a copy of the notice at the door of the courthouse of the city or county within which the town is located. The question on the ballot shall be:

"Shall the (city or town) change the election date of the mayor (if so provided by charter) and members of council from the May general election to the November general election (in even-numbered or odd-numbered years or as otherwise designated in the petition)?"

If members of the school board in the city or town are elected by the voters, the ballot question also shall state that the change in election date applies to the election of school board members.

The referendum shall be held and the results certified as provided in § 24.2-684. If a majority of the voters voting in the referendum vote in favor of the change, the mayor and council thereafter shall be elected at the November general election date for terms to commence January 1.

C. Except as provided in subsection D, no term of a mayor or member of council shall be shortened in implementing the change to the November election date. Mayors and members of council who were elected at a May general election and whose terms are to expire as of June 30 shall continue in office until their successors have been elected at the November general election and have been qualified to serve.

D. In any city or town that elects its council biennially or quadrennially and that changes to the November general election date in odd-numbered years from the May general election date in even-numbered years, mayors and members of council who were elected at a May general election shall have their term of office shortened by six months but shall continue in office until their successors have been elected at the November general election and have been qualified to serve.

2000, c. 1045; 2002, c. 30; 2016, c. 402.

§ 24.2-223. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Election and term of school board members.

In any county, city or town wherein members of the school board are elected, pursuant to Article 7 (§ 22.1-57.1 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 22.1, elections shall be held to coincide with the election of members of the governing body at the regular general election in November or the regular general election in May, as the case may be. Elected school board members shall serve terms which are the same as those of the governing body, to commence on January 1 following their election or July 1 following their election, as the case may be.

1993, c. 641; 2000, c. 1045.

§ 24.2-223. (Effective January 1, 2022) Election and term of school board members.

In any county, city or town wherein members of the school board are elected, pursuant to Article 7 (§ 22.1-57.1 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 22.1, elections shall be held to coincide with the election of members of the governing body at the regular general election in November or the regular general election in May, as the case may be. Elected school board members shall serve terms that are the same as those of the governing body, to commence on January 1 following their election or July 1 following their election, as the case may be.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, in a locality that imposes district-based or ward-based residency requirements for members of the school board, the member elected from each district or ward shall be elected by the qualified voters of that district or ward and not by the locality at large.

1993, c. 641; 2000, c. 1045; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 225.

§ 24.2-224. Local elections not otherwise provided for.

The election to any public office required to be filled by the qualified voters of any county, city, town, or election district for which an election time is not provided by law shall be held at the general election immediately preceding the time provided for the term of such office to commence.

Code 1950, § 24-143; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-74; 1993, c. 641.

Article 6. Vacancies in Elected Constitutional and Local Offices.

§ 24.2-225. Applicability.

This article applies to vacancies in any elected constitutional or local office if there is no other statutory or charter provision for filling a vacancy in the office. Further provisions within this article which specifically override other statutory or charter provisions shall prevail.

Code 1950, § 24-145; 1958, c. 621; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-76; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1977, c. 490; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-226. Election to fill vacancy.

A. A vacancy in any elected local office, whether occurring when for any reason an officer-elect does not take office or occurring after an officer begins his term, shall be filled as provided by § 24.2-228 or for constitutional officers as provided in § 24.2-228.1, or unless provided otherwise by statute or charter requiring special elections within the time limits provided in this title. The governing body or, in the case of an elected school board, the school board of the county, city, or town in which the vacancy occurs shall, within 15 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy as set forth in Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6. Either upon receipt of the petition or on its own motion, the court shall issue the writ ordering the election promptly and shall order the special election to be held on the date of the next general election in November or in May if the vacant office is regularly scheduled by law to be filled in May. However, if the governing body or the school board requests in its petition a different date for the election, the court shall order the special election be held on that date, so long as the date requested precedes the date of such next general election and complies with the provisions of § 24.2-682. If the vacancy occurs within 90 days of the next such general election and the governing body or the school board has not requested in its petition a different date for the election, the special election shall be held on the date of the second such general election. Upon receipt of written notification by an officer or officer-elect of his resignation as of a stated date, the governing body or school board, as the case may be, may immediately petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election, and the court may immediately issue the writ to call the election. The officer's or officer-elect's resignation shall not be revocable after the date stated by him for his resignation or after the forty-fifth day before the date set for the special election. The person so elected shall hold the office for the remaining portion of the regular term of the office for which the vacancy is being filled.

B. Notwithstanding any provision of law or charter to the contrary, no election to fill a vacancy shall be ordered or held if the general election at which it is to be called is scheduled within 60 days of the end of the term of the office to be filled.

C. Notwithstanding any provision of law or charter to the contrary, when an interim appointment to a vacancy in any governing body or elected school board has been made by the remaining members thereof, no election to fill the vacancy shall be ordered or held if the general election at which it is to be called is scheduled in the year in which the term expires.

Code 1950, §§ 24-145, 24-147.1; 1958, c. 621; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-76, 24.1-79; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1977, c. 490; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641; 1996, c. 873; 2000, cc. 787, 1045, 1070; 2003, c. 1015; 2010, cc. 431, 449, 645; 2011, c. 206; 2014, c. 476.

§ 24.2-227. Interim appointment by court until vacancy filled by election for certain offices.

When a vacancy occurs in any local elected office other than a constitutional office, local governing body, or an elected school board, a majority of the judges of the judicial circuit for the county or city in which it occurs shall make an interim appointment to the office until the vacancy can be filled by special election. The senior judge shall make the appointment if a majority of the judges cannot agree. The chief or senior deputy, if there is one in the office, shall perform all the duties of the office until the person appointed to fill the vacancy has qualified. The person so appointed shall hold office until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by election and the person so elected has qualified.

Code 1950, § 24-145; 1958, c. 621; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-76; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1977, c. 490; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641; 1996, c. 873; 2000, cc. 787, 1070.

§ 24.2-228. Interim appointment to local governing body or elected school board; elected mayor.

A. When a vacancy occurs in a local governing body or an elected school board, the remaining members of the body or board, respectively, within 45 days of the office becoming vacant, may appoint a qualified voter of the election district in which the vacancy occurred to fill the vacancy. If a majority of the remaining members of the body or board cannot agree, or do not act, the judges of the circuit court of the county or city may make the appointment. Notwithstanding any charter provisions to the contrary, the person so appointed shall hold office only until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by special election pursuant to § 24.2-682 and the person so elected has qualified. Any person so appointed shall hold office the same as an elected person and shall exercise all powers of the elected office.

If a majority of the seats on any governing body or elected school board are vacant, the remaining members shall not make interim appointments and the vacancies shall be filled as provided in § 24.2-227.

B. When a vacancy occurs in the office of a mayor who is elected by the voters, the council shall make an interim appointment to fill the vacancy as provided in subsection A.

C. For the purposes of this article and subsection D of § 22.1-57.3, local school boards comprised of elected and appointed members shall be deemed elected school boards.

D. The failure of a member of a local governing body or elected school board or mayor to take the oath of office required by § 49-1 before attending the first meeting of the governing body or school board held after his election shall not be deemed to create a vacancy in his office provided that he takes the oath within 30 days after that first meeting.

1975, c. 515, § 24.1-76.1; 1993, c. 641; 1996, c. 873; 1999, c. 128; 2010, cc. 431, 624; 2011, c. 78.

§ 24.2-228.1. Election to fill vacancy in constitutional office.

A. Notwithstanding any provision of a charter to the contrary, a vacancy in any elected constitutional office, whether occurring when for any reason an officer-elect does not take office or occurring after an officer begins his term, shall be filled by special election, except as provided in subsection B. Within 15 days of the occurrence of the vacancy, the governing body of the county or city in which the vacancy occurs shall petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election to fill the vacancy as set forth in Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6. Either upon receipt of the petition or on its own motion, the court shall promptly issue the writ ordering the election for a date determined pursuant to § 24.2-682. However, the governing body may request in its petition that the special election be held on the date of the next general election in November, and the court may order the special election to be held on that date.

B. If a vacancy in any elected constitutional office occurs within the 12 months immediately preceding the end of the term of that office, the governing body may petition the circuit court to request that no special election be ordered. Upon receipt of such petition, the court shall grant such request. The highest ranking deputy officer, or in the case of the office of attorney for the Commonwealth, the highest ranking full-time assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, who is qualified to vote for and hold that office, shall be vested with the powers and shall perform all of the duties of the office, and shall be entitled to all the privileges and protections afforded by law to elected or appointed constitutional officers, for the remainder of the unexpired term.

C. Upon receipt of written notification by an officer or officer-elect of his resignation as of a stated date, the governing body may immediately petition the circuit court to issue a writ of election, and the court may immediately issue the writ to call the election. The officer's or officer-elect's resignation shall not be revocable after the date stated by him for his resignation or after the thirtieth day before the date set for the special election.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, a vacancy in any elected constitutional office in any county or city with a population of 15,000 or less, or shared by two or more units of government with a combined population of 15,000 or less, shall be filled by a special election ordered by the court to be held at the next ensuing general election to be held in November. If the vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to that election, however, the writ shall order the election to be held at the second ensuing such general election.

E. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no election to fill a vacancy shall be ordered or held if the general election at which it is to be called is scheduled within 60 days of the end of the term of the office to be filled.

F. Notwithstanding any provision of a charter to the contrary, the highest ranking deputy officer, or in the case of the office of attorney for the Commonwealth, the highest ranking full-time assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, if there is such a deputy or assistant in the office, who is qualified to vote for and hold that office, shall be vested with the powers and shall perform all of the duties of the office, and shall be entitled to all the privileges and protections afforded by law to elected or appointed constitutional officers, until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by election and the person so elected has qualified and taken the oath of office. In the event that (i) there is no deputy officer or full-time assistant attorney for the Commonwealth in the office or (ii) the highest-ranking deputy officer or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth declines to serve, the court shall make an interim appointment to fill the vacancy pursuant to § 24.2-227 until the qualified voters fill the vacancy by election and the person so elected has qualified and taken the oath of office.

G. The absence from the county or city of a constitutional officer by reason of his service in the Armed Forces of the United States shall not be deemed to create a vacancy in the office without a written notification by the officer of his resignation from the office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including § 19.2-156, the power to relieve a constitutional officer of the duties or powers of his office or position during the period of such absence shall remain the sole prerogative of the constitutional officer unless expressly waived by him in writing.

2000, cc. 787, 1070; 2003, c. 1015; 2006, cc. 120, 253; 2009, c. 157; 2011, c. 599; 2015, c. 648; 2016, cc. 453, 511.

§ 24.2-229. Appointees to qualify and give bond in thirty days.

All officers appointed to fill vacancies shall qualify and give bond, if bond is required, within thirty days after their appointment in like manner as provided in §§ 15.2-1522 and 15.2-1523 for the qualification of such officers when elected by the people.

Code 1950, § 24-146; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-77; 1975, c. 515; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-229.1. Legitimacy of votes by appointees.

All votes cast prior to July 1, 2010, by persons duly appointed to fill a vacancy pursuant to this article, including votes appropriating money in excess of $500, imposing taxes, or authorizing the borrowing of moneys, are hereby validated and confirmed as the lawful vote of an elected member of the governing body.

2010, c. 624.

Article 7. Removal of Public Officers from Office.

§ 24.2-230. Applicability of article; certain exceptions.

This article shall apply to all elected or appointed Commonwealth, constitutional, and local officers, except officers for whose removal the Constitution of Virginia specifically provides.

However, an appointed officer shall be removed from office only by the person or authority who appointed him unless he is sentenced for a crime as provided for in § 24.2-231 or is determined to be "mentally incompetent" as provided for in § 24.2-232. This exception shall not apply to an officer who is (i) appointed to fill a vacancy in an elective office or (ii) appointed to an office for a term established by law and the appointing person or authority is not given the unqualified power of removal.

This article shall be applicable to members of local electoral boards and general registrars, but shall not be applicable to assistant registrars who may be removed from office by the general registrar pursuant to § 24.2-112 or to officers of election who may be removed from office by the local electoral board pursuant to § 24.2-109.

1975, cc. 515, 595, §§ 24.1-79.1, 24.1-79.2; 1993, c. 641; 1998, c. 582; 2004, cc. 27, 391.

§ 24.2-231. Forfeiture of office by person sentenced for commission of certain crimes.

Any person holding any public office of honor, profit, or trust in this Commonwealth who is convicted of a felony or any offense for which registration is required as defined in § 9.1-902 and for whom all rights of appeal under Virginia law have expired, shall by such final conviction forfeit his office or post and thereafter may not act therein under his previous election or appointment. A pardon which may be afterwards granted him shall not void the forfeiture.

Code 1950, § 2.1-36; 1966, c. 677; 1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.3; 1993, c. 641; 2007, c. 175.

§ 24.2-232. Vacancy occurring when officer determined "mentally incompetent" (incapacitated).

A person who is determined to be incapacitated in a judicial proceeding as provided for in Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 64.2 shall be deemed for purposes of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of Virginia and this title to be "mentally incompetent" as that term is used in those provisions. The office of any person who is so determined to be incapacitated, shall become vacant and the vacancy filled in the manner provided by law. Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 64.2, however, any officer shall have a jury trial unless it is waived by him or for him by his counsel of record.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.4; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 921; 1998, c. 582.

§ 24.2-233. (Effective until January 1, 2024) Removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts.

Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court:

1. For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office;

2. Upon conviction of a misdemeanor pursuant to Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) or Article 1.1 (§ 18.2-265.1 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 and after all rights of appeal have terminated involving the:

a. Manufacture, sale, gift, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or marijuana;

b. Sale, possession with intent to sell, or placing an advertisement for the purpose of selling drug paraphernalia; or

c. Possession of any controlled substance or marijuana and such conviction under subdivision a, b, or c has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office;

3. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of a misdemeanor involving a "hate crime" as that term is defined in § 52-8.5 when the conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office; or

4. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4, attempted sexual battery in violation of subsection C of § 18.2-67.5, peeping or spying into dwelling or enclosure in violation of § 18.2-130, consensual sexual intercourse with a child 15 years of age or older in violation of § 18.2-371, or indecent exposure of himself or procuring another to expose himself in violation of § 18.2-387, and such conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office.

The petition must be signed by a number of registered voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the officer equal to ten percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office that the officer holds.

Any person removed from office under the provisions of subdivision 2, 3, or 4 may not be subsequently subject to the provisions of this section for the same criminal offense.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.5; 1989, c. 470; 1993, c. 641; 2002, cc. 588, 623; 2011, cc. 384, 410; 2014, cc. 566, 674, 719.

§ 24.2-233. (Effective January 1, 2024) Removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts.

Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court:

1. For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office;

2. Upon conviction of a misdemeanor pursuant to Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) or Article 1.1 (§ 18.2-265.1 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 and after all rights of appeal have terminated involving the:

a. Manufacture, sale, gift, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance;

b. Sale, possession with intent to sell, or placing an advertisement for the purpose of selling drug paraphernalia; or

c. Possession of any controlled substance and such conviction under subdivision a, b, or c has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office;

3. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of a misdemeanor involving a "hate crime" as that term is defined in § 52-8.5 when the conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office; or

4. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4, attempted sexual battery in violation of subsection C of § 18.2-67.5, peeping or spying into dwelling or enclosure in violation of § 18.2-130, consensual sexual intercourse with a child 15 years of age or older in violation of § 18.2-371, or indecent exposure of himself or procuring another to expose himself in violation of § 18.2-387, and such conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office.

The petition must be signed by a number of registered voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the officer equal to 10 percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office that the officer holds.

Any person removed from office under the provisions of subdivision 2, 3, or 4 may not be subsequently subject to the provisions of this section for the same criminal offense.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.5; 1989, c. 470; 1993, c. 641; 2002, cc. 588, 623; 2011, cc. 384, 410; 2014, cc. 566, 674, 719; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 550, 551.

§ 24.2-234. Removal of officer appointed for a term certain.

Any officer appointed to an office for a term established by law may be removed from office, under the provisions of § 24.2-233, upon a petition filed with the circuit court in whose jurisdiction the officer resides signed by the person or a majority of the members of the authority who appointed him, if the appointing person or authority is not given the unqualified power of removal.

The circuit court also shall proceed pursuant to § 24.2-235 for the removal of a member of a local electoral board or general registrar upon a petition signed by a majority of the members of the State Board of Elections as provided in § 24.2-103.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.6; 1993, c. 641; 2004, cc. 27, 391.

§ 24.2-235. Procedure.

A petition for the removal of an officer shall state with reasonable accuracy and detail the grounds or reasons for removal and shall be signed by the person or persons making it under penalties of perjury. The circuit court shall not dismiss the petition solely because of an error or omission in the form of the petition relating to its statement of the grounds or reasons for removal if such error or omission is not material in determining whether the statement of the grounds or reasons for removal provides a reasonable basis under § 24.2-233 to consider the removal of the officer.

As soon as the petition is filed with the court, the court shall issue a rule requiring the officer to show cause why he should not be removed from office, the rule alleging in general terms the cause or causes for such removal. The rule shall be returnable in not less than five nor more than ten days and shall be served upon the officer with a copy of the petition. Upon return of the rule duly executed, unless good cause is shown for a continuance or postponement to a later day in the term, the case shall be tried on the day named in the rule and take precedence over all other cases on the docket. If upon trial it is determined that the officer is subject to removal under the provisions of § 24.2-233, he shall be removed from office.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.7; 1993, c. 641; 2009, cc. 868, 876.

§ 24.2-236. Suspension from office pending hearing and appeal.

In the event of a judicial proceeding under § 24.2-231, 24.2-232, 24.2-233, or 24.2-234, the circuit court may enter an order suspending the officer pending the hearing. Any officer convicted of a felony under the laws of any state or the United States shall be automatically suspended upon such conviction, regardless of any appeals, pleadings, delays, or motions. The court may, in its discretion, continue the suspension until the matter is finally disposed of in the Supreme Court or otherwise. During the suspension the court may appoint some suitable person to act in the officer's place. The officer's compensation shall be withheld and kept in a separate account and paid to him if and when the judicial proceedings result in his favor. Otherwise, it shall be paid back to the county, city, town, or State Treasurer who paid it.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.8; 1993, c. 641; 2017, cc. 354, 369.

§ 24.2-237. (Effective until January 1, 2022) Who to represent Commonwealth; trial by jury; appeal.

The attorney for the Commonwealth shall represent the Commonwealth in any trial under this article. If the proceeding is against the attorney for the Commonwealth, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the Commonwealth. Any officer proceeded against shall have the right to demand a trial by jury. The Commonwealth and the defendant shall each have the right to apply to the Supreme Court for a writ of error and supersedeas upon the record made in the trial court and the Supreme Court may hear and determine such cases.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.9; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-237. (Effective January 1, 2022) Who to represent Commonwealth; trial by jury; appeal.

The attorney for the Commonwealth shall represent the Commonwealth in any trial under this article. If the proceeding is against the attorney for the Commonwealth, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the Commonwealth. Any officer proceeded against shall have the right to demand a trial by jury. The Commonwealth and the defendant shall each have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals upon the record made in the trial court and the Court of Appeals shall consider and determine such cases.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.9; 1993, c. 641; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 489.

§ 24.2-238. Costs.

A. If a judicial proceeding under this article is dismissed in favor of the respondent, the court in its discretion may require the state agency or political subdivision which the respondent serves to pay court costs or reasonable attorney fees, or both, for the respondent.

B. No person who signs a petition for the removal of an official pursuant to § 24.2-233 or who circulates such a petition (i) shall be liable for any costs associated with removal proceedings conducted pursuant to the petition, including attorney fees incurred by any other party or court costs, or (ii) shall have sanctions imposed against him pursuant to § 8.01-271.1.

1975, cc. 515, 595, § 24.1-79.10; 1993, c. 641; 2009, cc. 868, 876.