Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 5. Candidates for Office
6/24/2021

Article 4. Conduct of Primaries.

§ 24.2-512. Primaries to be conducted in accordance with article.

A primary when held shall be conducted in all respects under the provisions of this article. All references in this chapter to primaries shall be deemed to mean those elections held for the purpose of nominating candidates as authorized by this article.

Code 1950, § 24-347; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-170; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-513. Provisions as to general elections applicable.

All the provisions and requirements of the laws of this Commonwealth in relation to the holding of elections shall apply to all primaries insofar as they are consistent with this article.

Code 1950, § 24-356; 1952, c. 4; 1964, c. 545; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-178; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-514. To what nominations this article applies.

This article shall apply to the nomination of candidates for offices by a direct primary held on the regular dates established in § 24.2-515 for the conduct of primaries, and to no other nominations.

A primary is not authorized under this article to nominate presidential electors, nor to nominate candidates to fill vacancies unless the candidates for nomination to fill vacancies are to be voted for on the regular date set by this article for primaries.

Code 1950, §§ 24-348, 24-361; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-171; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-515. Presidential election year primaries.

Primaries for the nomination of candidates for offices to be voted on at the general election date in November shall be held on the second Tuesday in June next preceding such election, except that beginning with the year 2012 and in presidential election years thereafter, primaries to choose among presidential candidates may be held as provided in Article 7 (§ 24.2-544 et seq.). Primaries for the nomination of candidates for offices to be voted on at the general election date in May shall be held on the first Tuesday in March next preceding such election.

Code 1950, § 24-349; 1952, c. 4; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-174; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1975, c. 515; 1993, c. 641; 1999, c. 972; 2003, cc. 815, 823; 2011, cc. 570, 584.

§ 24.2-515.1. Schedule for primaries in the year 2001 and each tenth year thereafter.

Primaries for the nomination of candidates for the offices listed in Section 4 of Article VII of the Constitution of Virginia to be voted on at the general election in November 2001 and each tenth year thereafter shall be held on the second Tuesday in June next preceding such election notwithstanding any special primary schedule enacted for any other office.

1993, c. 355, § 24.1-174.1; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-516. Party to furnish names of chairmen and notify State Board of adoption of direct primary.

Each political party within the Commonwealth shall furnish to the State Board the names and addresses of its state, county, and city party chairmen in January of each year, and during the remainder of the year it shall notify the Board of any changes in such names and addresses.

At least 135 days prior to the regular date for a primary, the Board shall inquire of each state chairman and each county and city chairman whether a direct primary has been adopted. The Board shall advise each chairman that notification to the Board of the adoption of a direct primary is required and must be filed with the Board not more than 125 days and not less than 105 days before the date set for the primaries.

Each chairman shall file timely written notice with the Board whether or not a primary has been adopted and identify each office for which a primary has been adopted. The requirement to notify the Board of the adoption of a direct primary shall be satisfied when the Board receives by the deadline (i) written notice from the appropriate party chairman or (ii) a copy of the written notice from an incumbent officeholder to his party chairman of the incumbent's selection, pursuant to § 24.2-509, of the primary as the method of nomination.

Code 1950, § 24-351; 1962, c. 536; 1964, c. 545; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-176; 1972, c. 620; 1981, c. 425; 1990, c. 199; 1993, c. 641; 2010, cc. 449, 645.

§ 24.2-517. State Board to order election.

The State Board shall order the holding of a primary election in any county, city, or other district of the Commonwealth in which it is notified pursuant to § 24.2-516 that a primary is intended to be held. The notice ordering the primary shall be sent to the secretary of the electoral board. Within five days of the issuance of the order by the State Board, each secretary shall post a copy of the notice on the official website of the county or city, post copies of the notice at not less than 10 public places in the county or city, or have notice of the election published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city.

Code 1950, § 24-352; 1952, c. 212; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-177; 1972, c. 620; 1993, c. 641; 2012, cc. 328, 486.

§ 24.2-518. County and city treasurers to pay primary expenses; certain uses of machinery by party.

The treasurer of the county or city in which the elections are held shall pay the costs of primary elections.

A political party may hold an election to select the members of its party committee at the same time and in the same places as a primary election without fee or charge for making use of the electoral machinery, provided that a primary to nominate the party's candidate for an office is in fact conducted on that primary date. Such elections for party committee members may be conducted by paper ballots or by voting machines in the discretion of the local electoral board.

The proper political party committee shall pay the costs of using the election machinery at any other time for the purpose of conducting other nominating procedures adopted pursuant to the rules of that party, if such use is authorized by the officials having custody of the machinery.

Code 1950, §§ 24-349, 24-364.1; 1952, c. 4; 1958, c. 580; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-174, 24.1-180; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1975, c. 515; 1982, c. 650; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-519. Qualification of primary candidates.

In order to qualify as a candidate at any primary, a person must be legally qualified to hold the office for which he is a candidate and be qualified to vote in the primary in which he seeks to be a candidate.

Code 1950, § 24-369; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-183; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 226; 1974, c. 428; 1977, c. 490; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-520. Declaration of candidacy required.

A candidate for nomination by primary for any office shall be required to file a written declaration of candidacy on a form prescribed by the State Board. The declaration shall include the name of the political party of which the candidate is a member, a designation of the office for which he is a candidate, and a statement that, if defeated in the primary, his name is not to be printed on the ballots for that office in the succeeding general election. The declaration shall be acknowledged before some officer who has the authority to take acknowledgments to deeds, or attested by two witnesses who are qualified voters of the election district.

Code 1950, §§ 24-370 through 24-372; 1960, c. 427; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-184; 1978, cc. 239, 778; 1983, c. 461; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-521. Petition required to accompany declaration; number of signatures required.

A. A candidate for nomination by primary for any office shall be required to file with his declaration of candidacy a petition for his name to be printed on the official primary ballot, on a form prescribed by the State Board, signed by the number of qualified voters specified in this section after January 1 of the year in which the election is held or before or after said date in the case of a March primary, and listing the residence address of each such voter. Each signature on the petition shall have been witnessed by a person who is not a minor or a felon whose voting rights have not been restored and whose affidavit to that effect appears on each page of the petition. Each such person circulating a petition who is not a legal resident of the Commonwealth shall sign a statement on the affidavit that he consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Virginia in resolving any disputes concerning the circulation of petitions, or signatures contained therein, by that person. The signatures of qualified voters collected by a nonresident petition circulator who fails to sign such statement, or who later fails to appear or produce documents when properly served with a subpoena to do so, shall not be counted towards the minimum number of signatures required pursuant to subsection B.

Each voter signing the petition may provide on the petition the last four digits of his social security number, if any; however, noncompliance with this requirement shall not be cause to invalidate the voter's signature on the petition.

B. The minimum number of signatures of qualified voters required for primary candidate petitions shall be as follows:

1. For a candidate for the United States Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, 10,000 signatures, including the signatures of at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the Commonwealth;

2. For a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, 1,000 signatures;

3. For a candidate for the Senate of Virginia, 250 signatures;

4. For a candidate for the House of Delegates or for a constitutional office, 125 signatures;

5. For a candidate for membership on the governing body of any county or city, 125 signatures; or if from an election district not at large containing 1,000 or fewer registered voters, 50 signatures;

6. For a candidate for membership on the governing body of any town that has more than 3,500 registered voters, 125 signatures; or if from a ward or other district not at large, 25 signatures;

7. For a candidate for membership on the governing body of any town that has at least 1,500 but not more than 3,500 registered voters, 50 signatures; or if from a ward or other district not at large, 25 signatures;

8. For a candidate for membership on the governing body of any town that has fewer than 1,500 registered voters, no petition shall be required; and

9. For any other candidate, 50 signatures.

Code 1950, § 24-373; 1952, c. 523; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-185; 1971, Ex. Sess., cc. 119, 247; 1972, c. 620; 1978, c. 778; 1980, c. 639; 1982, c. 650; 1983, c. 188; 1989, c. 141; 1992, c. 855; 1993, cc. 407, 641; 1998, cc. 152, 246; 2000, cc. 232, 252; 2003, c. 477; 2010, c. 215; 2012, cc. 166, 538; 2017, c. 355; 2020, c. 501.

§ 24.2-522. When and to whom filings to be made.

A. Declarations of candidacy, petitions, and receipts indicating the payment of filing fees shall be filed not earlier than noon of the ninety-second day and not later than 5:00 p.m. of the seventy-fifth day before the primary.

B. Except as provided in subsection C, candidates for nomination shall file their declarations, petitions, and receipts with the chairman or chairmen of the several committees of the respective parties.

C. Any candidate for nomination for United States Senator, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General shall file with the State Board (i) his declaration of candidacy, (ii) the petitions for his candidacy, sealed in one or more containers to which is attached a written statement under oath by the candidate giving his name and the number of signatures on the petitions contained in the containers, and (iii) a receipt indicating the payment of his filing fee.

The State Board shall transmit the material so filed to the state chairman of the party of the candidate within 72 hours and not later than the seventy-fourth day before the primary. The sealed containers containing the petitions for a candidate may be opened only by the state chairman of the party of the candidate.

Code 1950, §§ 24-370 through 24-372, 24-374; 1960, c. 427; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-184, 24.1-186; 1978, cc. 239, 778, § 24.1-186.1; 1983, c. 461; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2013, c. 443.

§ 24.2-523. Candidates to pay fee before filing.

Every candidate for nomination for any office at any primary shall, before he files his declaration of candidacy, pay a fee equal to two percent of one year's minimum salary attached to the office for which he is candidate in effect in the year in which he files.

In case of an office for which compensation is paid in whole or in part by fees, the amount to be paid by a candidate as his contribution for the payment of the expenses of the primary shall be fixed by the proper committee of the respective parties.

If there is no salary or fee attached to the office, the fee for primary expenses shall be five dollars. This provision includes candidates for party committees in § 24.2-518.

Code 1950, §§ 24-398 through 24-400; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-198; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-524. To whom fees paid; refund of fees.

A. Candidates for United States Senators, for representatives in Congress, and for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General shall pay the primary fee to the State Board of Elections. The primary fees shall be credited by the Board to a fund to be known as the "state primary fee fund."

The Board shall refund the fee by warrant upon the state primary fee fund in the event the prospective candidate does not become a candidate, becomes a candidate and is not opposed, or must refile for any reason. All other primary fees paid to the Board shall be paid or placed to the credit of the fund out of which the Board pays the Commonwealth's expenses for the primary.

B. All other candidates shall pay the fee to the treasurer, or director of finance if there is no treasurer, of the city or county in which they reside. The treasurer or director of finance shall pay back the fee in the event the prospective candidate does not become a candidate, or becomes a candidate and must refile for any reason. In the event the candidate is unopposed, the State Board or the local electoral board, as appropriate, shall notify, no less than 60 days before the primary, the treasurer or director of finance to whom the fee was paid that the candidate is unopposed and shall provide the name and mailing address for returning the fee to the candidate. The treasurer or director of finance promptly shall return the fee to the candidate. All other primary fees paid a county or city treasurer or director of finance shall be paid or placed to the credit of the fund of the county or city out of which the expenses of the primary were paid by the county or city.

C. A receipt for the payment of the fee must be attached to the declaration of candidacy; otherwise the declaration shall not be received or filed.

Code 1950, § 24-401; 1962, c. 462; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 247, § 24.1-199; 1982, c. 650; 1988, c. 192; 1993, c. 641; 2005, c. 748; 2010, cc. 449, 645.

§ 24.2-525. Persons entitled to have name printed on ballot.

A. Only a person meeting all the qualifications and fulfilling all the requirements of a candidate, and who has complied with the rules and regulations of his party, shall have his name printed on the ballot provided for the primary election. A person who does not file either or both written statements required by § 24.2-503 by the relevant deadline, or the end of the extension period if an extension has been granted pursuant to that section, shall not have his name printed on the ballot provided for the primary election.

B. No person shall have his name printed on the ballot for more than one office at any one primary election. However, a candidate for federal or statewide office, or a candidate for an office being filled in a special election, may have his name printed on the ballot for two offices at a primary election.

Code 1950, §§ 24-369 through 24-372; 1960, c. 427; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-183, 24.1-184; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 226; 1974, c. 428; 1977, c. 490; 1978, cc. 239, 778; 1983, c. 461; 1993, c. 641; 2000, cc. 513, 552; 2004, c. 881; 2020, c. 850.

§ 24.2-526. Primary not to be held when less than two candidates declare.

Whenever within the time prescribed by this article there is only one declaration of candidacy in a political party for the nomination for any office, the person filing the declaration shall be declared the nominee of the party for the office for which he has announced his candidacy and his name shall not be printed on the ballot for the primary. Whenever within the time prescribed by this article there is no declaration of candidacy in a political party for the nomination for any office, the appropriate committee of the party may provide for an alternative method of nominating a candidate.

Code 1950, § 24-350; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-175; 1983, c. 483; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-527. Chairman or official to furnish State Board and general registrars with names of candidates and certify petition signature requirements met.

A. It shall be the duty of the chairman or chairmen of the several committees of the respective parties to furnish the name of any candidate for nomination for any office to be elected by the qualified voters of the Commonwealth at large or of a congressional district or of a General Assembly district to the State Board, and to furnish the name of any candidate for any other office to the State Board and to the general registrars charged with the duty of preparing and printing the primary ballots. In furnishing the name of any such candidate, the chairman shall certify that a review of the filed candidate petitions found the required minimum number of signatures of qualified voters for that office to have been met. The chairman shall also certify the order and date and time of filing for purposes of printing the ballots as prescribed in § 24.2-529, provided that the State Board shall determine the order and date and time of filing for candidates for United States Senator, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General for such purposes. Each chairman shall comply with the provisions of this section not less than 70 days before the primary.

B. In no case shall the individual who is a candidate for an office be the person who certifies the names of candidates for a primary for that same office. In such case the party shall designate an alternate official to certify the candidates.

Code 1950, § 24-375; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-187; 1976, c. 616; 1978, c. 239; 1979, c. 329; 1993, c. 641; 2006, c. 83; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2013, c. 443; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-528. No primary candidate to be nominated by convention.

No party which has adopted the method of making a nomination for an office by primary pursuant to § 24.2-509 shall nominate by a convention any candidate to be voted for at that primary.

Code 1950, § 24-366; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-173; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-529. Primary ballots.

The primary ballots for the several parties taking part in a primary shall be composed, arranged, printed, delivered, and provided in the same manner as the general election ballots except that at the top of each official primary ballot shall be printed in plain black type the name of the political party and the words "Primary Election." The names of the candidates for various offices shall appear on the ballot in an order determined by the priority of the time of filing for the office. In the event two or more candidates file simultaneously, the order of filing shall then be determined by lot by the electoral board or the State Board as in the case of a tie vote for the office. No write-in shall be permitted on ballots in primary elections.

Code 1950, § 24-376; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-188; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-530. Who may vote in primary.

All persons qualified to vote, pursuant to §§ 24.2-400 through 24.2-403, may vote at the primary. No person shall vote for the candidates of more than one party.

Code 1950, § 24-367; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-182; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 205; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-531. Pollbooks used during primaries.

There shall be pollbooks in the form set forth in § 24.2-611 provided for use during any primary.

Code 1950, § 24-377; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-189; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2010, c. 812; 2014, cc. 540, 576.

§ 24.2-532. Abstracts of votes; law-enforcement officer to obtain returns not forwarded.

As soon as the electoral board shall determine the persons who have received the highest number of votes for nomination to any such office, the secretary of the board shall immediately make out abstracts and certificates of the votes cast as provided in § 24.2-675 and forward certified copies thereof to the State Board. The secretary in addition shall place certified copies thereof in an envelope and forward them in person or by certified mail (i) for members of the House of Representatives of the United States, to the chairman of the congressional district committee, (ii) for members of the General Assembly, to the chairman of the Senate or House of Delegates district committee, and (iii) for county and city and district officers, to the chairman of the county or city. "Chairman" means the chairman of the political party under whose auspices the primary is held.

If the abstract of votes shall not have been received by the State Board from any county or city within six days after any state primary election, the Board shall dispatch a law-enforcement officer to obtain them as provided in § 24.2-678.

Code 1950, §§ 24-388, 24-390; 1952, c. 4; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-191, 24.1-193; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-533. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2010, c. 812, cl. 3.

§ 24.2-534. Returns tabulated by State Board; when nominee declared.

As soon as possible after receipt of the certified abstract and not later than fourteen days after the day of the election, the State Board shall open and tabulate the returns. Upon completion of the tabulation the Board shall declare the nominee in the manner and form as it does in general elections.

Code 1950, § 24-389; 1952, c. 4; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-192; 1978, c. 778; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-535. Vote required to nominate.

Any candidate for party nomination to any office who receives a plurality of the votes cast by his party shall be the nominee of his party for that office and his name shall be printed on the official ballots used in the election for which the primary was held.

Code 1950, § 24-359; 1952, c. 4; 1964, c. 616; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-179; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-536. Procedure when a vacancy in office occurs less than 75 days before primary date.

Whenever, by reason of the death, resignation, or removal of the incumbent, a vacancy in any office occurs less than 75 but more than 45 days before the regular date for the holding of a primary, the properly constituted party authorities may permit the filing of declarations and petitions of candidacy for nomination for that office in the primary. Notice of the vacancy and the right to file declarations and petitions of candidacy for nomination to fill it shall be advertised by the party committee or committees in at least one newspaper of general circulation within the Commonwealth if it is an office filled by election by the people at large, and in the manner prescribed by the properly constituted party authorities in the case of all other offices. No declaration and petitions of candidacy shall be filed with the committee or committees until such advertisement is made, nor within 35 days prior to the date for holding the primary. Declarations and petitions of candidacy filed pursuant to this section shall comply in every respect, except for the time of filing, with the requirements established generally for such declarations and petitions in this article.

If more than one person qualifies, the party chairman shall promptly certify their names to the State Board and the appropriate electoral boards as having qualified under the provisions of this section. The electoral boards having charge of the printing of the official ballots for the primary shall either:

1. Cause to be printed on the ballot the name of each person so certified; or

2. If the official ballots have already been printed, cause separate ballots to be printed for the office for which the persons have qualified pursuant to this section.

In the event that only one person qualifies as a candidate under the provisions of this section, the person so qualifying shall be declared the nominee of his party for that office and his name shall not be printed on the primary ballot.

In the event that no person qualifies as a candidate under the provisions of this section, or that the vacancy occurs less than 45 days before the primary, the appropriate committee of the political party shall determine the time and method of nominating its candidate for the office.

Code 1950, § 24-362; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-194; 1993, c. 641; 2010, cc. 449, 645.

§ 24.2-537. Procedure when nominee by default dies or withdraws or nomination is set aside prior to primary.

A. If any person who would have been nominated as the candidate of a political party for any office in any general election by reason of the fact that he was the only person who filed the required declaration of and petition for candidacy dies or withdraws as the party candidate, or his nomination is set aside for any reason, 45 days or more before the day on which the primary would have been held if two or more candidates had qualified, the appropriate committee of the political party shall determine the time and method of nominating its candidate for the office.

B. If the party committee determines that the party's nominee shall be elected at the scheduled primary, any person desiring to become a candidate for nomination by the party at that primary who is otherwise qualified may file a declaration of and petition for his candidacy with the proper chairman of his party committee. No person whose nomination has been set aside for fraud knowingly participated in by the candidate, or other person who knowingly participated in such fraud, shall be deemed qualified. The declaration and petition shall comply in every respect with the requirements established generally for such declarations and petitions in this article, except that the declaration and petition shall be filed at least 35 days before the day on which the primary is to be held.

If more than one person qualifies, the party chairman shall promptly certify their names to the State Board and the appropriate electoral boards as having qualified under the provisions of this section. The electoral boards having charge of the printing of the official ballots for the primary election shall either:

1. Cause to be printed thereon the name of every person so certified; or

2. If the official ballots have already been printed, cause separate ballots to be printed for the office for which two or more persons have qualified pursuant to the provisions of this section.

In the event that only one person qualifies as a candidate in accordance with the provisions of this section, the person so qualifying shall be declared the nominee of his party for that office and his name shall not be printed on the primary ballot.

In the event that no person qualifies as a candidate pursuant to the provisions of this section, or that the death or withdrawal or setting aside of candidacy of any such party nominee should occur at a time which is less than 45 days prior to any such primary, the appropriate committee of the political party shall determine the time and method of nominating its candidate for the office.

C. No party shall nominate any person whose nomination has been set aside for fraud knowingly participated in by the candidate, or any other person who knowingly participated in such fraud.

Code 1950, § 24-391; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-195; 1983, c. 483; 1993, c. 641; 2010, cc. 449, 645.

§ 24.2-538. Procedure when opposed candidate for nomination dies prior to primary.

If any person who is a candidate for nomination by a political party at a primary election, and who, along with one or more other candidates, has qualified to have his name printed on the official ballot for the primary, dies 45 days or more before the day on which the primary is to be held, any person otherwise qualified who desires to be a candidate at that primary may file a declaration of and petition for his candidacy with the proper chairman of his party committee. The declaration and petition shall comply in every respect with the requirements established generally for such declarations and petitions by this article, except that the declaration and petition shall be filed at least 35 days before the day on which the primary is to be held.

The party chairman or chairmen shall promptly certify the names of every such person to the State Board and appropriate electoral boards as having qualified under the provisions of this section. Every electoral board having charge of the printing of official ballots for the primary election shall either:

1. Cause to be printed thereon the name of every person so certified; or

2. If the official ballots have already been printed, cause separate ballots to be printed for the office containing the names of those candidates other than the decedent who have theretofore qualified and the names of those certified to it as having qualified pursuant to the provisions of this section. The board may, in its discretion, cause to be stricken from the ballots already printed the title of the office involved and the names of all candidates for nomination for the office appearing thereon.

Whenever any additional candidate shall qualify pursuant to this section, no ballots theretofore cast by absentee vote for a candidate for such office shall be counted, but any person who has so voted shall be entitled to receive a new ballot and to vote for his choice among all the candidates for such office.

Code 1950, § 24-392; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-196; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641; 2010, cc. 449, 645.