Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 6. The Election
6/13/2021

Article 1. General Provisions; Polling Places.

§ 24.2-600. Cost of elections.

The cost of conducting elections under this title shall be paid by the counties and cities, respectively. The cost of town elections shall be paid by the towns.

Code 1950, §§ 24-172, 24-177; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-93, 24.1-96; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-601. Town election process.

The electoral board and general registrar of the county within which a town, or the greater part thereof, is situated shall control the election process and carry out the applicable provisions of this title concerning towns. For November elections for town offices in any town split between two or more counties, the electoral board of the county in which the lesser part of the town is located shall (i) include town offices on the ballot for the county, and (ii) report the results ascertained for those town offices to the electoral board of the county in which the greatest part of the town is located for inclusion in the results of that county pursuant to § 24.2-671.

Code 1950, §§ 24-170, 24-172, 24-175; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-91, 24.1-93; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1991, c. 137; 1993, c. 641; 2008, cc. 113, 394.

§ 24.2-602. Exemption for ballots and election materials from certain purchasing and procurement requirements.

The provisions of Article 3, Division of Purchases and Supply, (§ 2.2-1109 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 2.2 and of Articles 1 (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.), 2 (§ 2.2-4303 et seq.), 3 (§ 2.2-4343 et seq.), and 5 (§ 2.2-4357 et seq.) of Chapter 43, Virginia Public Procurement Act, of Title 2.2 shall not apply to contracts for equipment, software, services, the printing of ballots or statements of results, or other materials essential to the conduct of the election. The provisions of Articles 4 (§ 2.2-4347 et seq.) and 6 (§ 2.2-4367 et seq.) of Chapter 43, Virginia Public Procurement Act, of Title 2.2 shall apply to such contracts.

1980, c. 639, § 24.1-113.1; 1981, c. 425; 1982, c. 647; 1992, c. 105; 1993, c. 641; 2004, cc. 993, 1010.

§ 24.2-603. Hours polls to be open; closing the polls.

At all elections, the polls shall be open at each polling place at 6:00 a.m. on the day of the election and closed at 7:00 p.m. on the same day except as provided for central absentee voter precincts pursuant to subsection F of § 24.2-712.

At 6:45 p.m. an officer of election shall announce that the polls will close in fifteen minutes. The officers of election shall list the names of all qualified voters in line before the polling place at 7:00 p.m. and permit those voters and no others to vote after 7:00 p.m.

Code 1950, §§ 24-182, 24-184; 1950, p. 462; 1958, c. 160; 1962, c. 536; 1966, c. 116; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-98, 24.1-99; 1981, c. 425; 1993, c. 641; 2008, c. 423.

§ 24.2-603.1. Postponement of certain elections; state of emergency.

For purposes of this section, "election" means (i) any local or state referendum, (ii) any primary, special, or general election for local or state office except a general election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and the General Assembly, (iii) any primary for federal office including any primary for the nomination of candidates for the office of President of the United States, or (iv) any federal special election to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate or the United States House of Representatives. In the event of a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 3.2 (§ 44-146.13 et seq.) of Title 44 or declared by the President of the United States or the governor of another state pursuant to law and confirmed by the Governor by an executive order, the Governor may postpone an election by executive order in areas affected by the emergency to a date, notwithstanding the provisions of § 24.2-682, not to exceed 14 days from the original date of the election.

If a local governing body determines that a longer postponement is required, it may petition a three-judge panel of the Virginia Supreme Court, to include the Chief Justice as the presiding Justice, for an extension. The Chief Justice shall choose the other two Justices by lot. The Court may postpone the election to a date it deems appropriate, notwithstanding the provisions of § 24.2-682, not to exceed 30 days from the original date of the election.

Only those persons duly registered to vote as of the original date of the election shall be entitled to vote in the rescheduled election.

If, as a direct result of the emergency, any ballots already cast at the polling places or equipment on which ballots have been cast, or any voted absentee ballots already received by the appropriate election officials or any equipment on which absentee ballots have already been cast have been destroyed or otherwise damaged so that such ballots cannot be counted manually or by a voting system, the Governor (i) shall specify that such ballots or votes previously cast by machinery or paper need to be recast on or by the rescheduled election date so that they may be counted and (ii) shall direct the appropriate election officials to immediately send replacement absentee ballots to all absentee voters whose voted ballots are known to have been so destroyed or damaged. Such instructions may be issued by executive order separately from the executive order postponing the election. Any absentee ballots duly cast and received by the rescheduled election date and able to be counted shall be valid and counted when determining the results of the rescheduled election; however, if more than one absentee ballot is received from any voter, only the first absentee ballot received and able to be counted shall be counted. Any person who was duly registered to vote as of the original date of the election, and who has not voted, or who is permitted to recast their ballot due to the emergency, may vote by absentee ballot in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 7 (§ 24.2-700 et seq.) in the rescheduled election. Official ballots shall not be invalidated on the basis that they contain the original election date.

If the postponement of the election is ordered after voting at the polls on the original election date has already commenced, all qualified voters in a precinct in which any voted ballots, voting equipment containing voted ballots or pollbooks recording who has already voted in that precinct have been destroyed or damaged as a direct result of the emergency, so that the votes cannot be counted or it cannot be determined who has already voted, shall be allowed to vote in the rescheduled election, and no votes cast at the polls on the original election date shall be counted. If the postponement of the election is ordered after voting at the polls on the original election date has already commenced and no ballots cast at the polls, voting equipment containing voted ballots, or pollbooks recording who has already voted in that election in that precinct have been destroyed or damaged as a direct result of the emergency, only qualified voters who had not yet voted shall be eligible to vote on the rescheduled election day and all votes cast on the original and postponed election dates shall be counted at the close of the polls on the rescheduled election day.

The provisions of § 24.2-663 requiring the voiding of all ballots received from any voter who votes more than once in the same election shall not apply to ballots otherwise lawfully cast or recast pursuant to this section; however, no more than one ballot may be counted from any voter in the same election. If one ballot has already been counted, any additional ballots from the same voter shall be void and shall not be counted. The provisions of § 24.2-1004 or any other law prohibiting any voter from voting more than once in the same election, or any oath attesting to the same, shall not apply to ballots otherwise lawfully cast or recast pursuant to this section.

No results shall be tallied or votes counted in any postponed election before the closing of the polls on the rescheduled election date. Officers of election in unaffected areas shall count and report the results for the postponed election after the close of the polls on the rescheduled election date. The counting may take place at the precinct or another location determined by the local electoral board.

The State Board shall prescribe appropriate procedures to implement this section.

2002, cc. 785, 819; 2004, c. 205; 2014, cc. 540, 576.

§ 24.2-604. Polling places; prohibited activities; prohibited area; penalties.

A. During the times the polls are open and ballots are being counted, it is unlawful for any person (i) to loiter or congregate within 40 feet of any entrance of any polling place; (ii) within such distance to give, tender, or exhibit any ballot, ticket, or other campaign material to any person or to solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any person in casting his vote; or (iii) to hinder or delay a qualified voter in entering or leaving a polling place.

B. Prior to opening the polls, the officers of election shall post, in the area within 40 feet of any entrance to the polling place, sufficient notices which state "Prohibited Area" in two-inch type. The notices shall also state the provisions of this section in not less than 24-point type. The officers of election shall post the notices within the prohibited area to be visible to voters and the public.

C. It is unlawful for any authorized representative permitted in the polling place pursuant to § 24.2-604.4, any voter, or any other person in the room to (i) hinder or delay a qualified voter; (ii) give, tender, or exhibit any ballot, ticket, or other campaign material to any person; (iii) solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any person in casting his vote; (iv) hinder or delay any officer of election; (v) be in a position to see the marked ballot of any other voter; or (vi) otherwise impede the orderly conduct of the election.

D. The provisions of subsections A and C shall not be construed to prohibit a person who approaches or enters the polling place for the purpose of voting from wearing a shirt, hat, or other apparel on which a candidate's name or a political slogan appears or from having a sticker or button attached to his apparel on which a candidate's name or a political slogan appears. This exemption shall not apply to candidates, representatives of candidates, or any other person who approaches or enters the polling place for any purpose other than voting.

E. This section shall not be construed to prohibit a candidate from entering any polling place on the day of the election to vote, or to visit a polling place for no longer than 10 minutes per polling place per election day, provided that he complies with the restrictions stated in subsections A, C, and D.

F. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this section to remain outside of the prohibited area. Any person violating subsection A or C is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 24-186, 24-188; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-101; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1973, c. 30; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1984, c. 480; 1993, cc. 413, 641; 1997, c. 328; 2000, cc. 215, 268; 2003, c. 1015; 2007, c. 672; 2009, cc. 396, 494, 865, 870, 874; 2010, cc. 448, 707; 2012, cc. 754, 826; 2015, cc. 133, 575; 2016, cc. 15, 18, 491, 492; 2018, c. 700; 2020, c. 561.

§ 24.2-604.1. Signs for special entrances to polling places.

The electoral board or the general registrar shall provide and have posted outside each polling place appropriate signs to direct people with disabilities and elderly persons to any special entrance designed for their use.

1993, c. 160, § 24.1-97.1; 1993, c. 641; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-604.2. Polling places; prohibited area; emergency situations.

If an emergency causes the dimensions of the prohibited area for a polling place to be perceived as increasing the risk of danger for persons outside the polling place, the electoral board may modify the distance requirements for the prohibited area, subject to the prior approval of the State Board. For purposes of this section, an "emergency" includes a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 3.2 (§ 44-146.13 et seq.) of Title 44 or declared by the President of the United States.

2003, c. 241.

§ 24.2-604.3. Election day page program; high school students.

A. The local electoral board, or its general registrar, may conduct a special election day page program for high school students in one or more polling places designated by the electoral board or the general registrar, which may include a central absentee voter precinct. Students shall be selected for the election day page program by the electoral board or the general registrar in cooperation with high school authorities. The program shall be designed to stimulate the pages' interest in elections and registering to vote, provide assistance to the officers of election, and ensure the safe entry and exit of elderly and disabled voters from the polling place.

B. Each page shall receive, from a person designated by the electoral board, training on the duties, responsibilities, and prohibited conduct of election pages. Each page shall take and sign an oath as an election page, serve under the direct supervision of the chief officer of election of his assigned polling place, and observe strict impartiality at all times.

C. Election pages may observe the electoral process and seek information from the chief officer of election and may assist in the arrangement of the voting equipment, furniture, and other materials for the conduct of the election but shall not enter any voting booth. Election pages may, at the direction and under the direct supervision of the chief officer of election, assist in the counting of unmarked ballots but shall not handle or touch ballots in any other circumstance.

2018, c. 700; 2020, c. 285.

§ 24.2-604.4. Polling places; authorized representatives of party or candidate; prohibited activities.

A. The officers of election shall permit one authorized representative of each political party or independent candidate in a general or special election, or one authorized representative of each candidate in a primary election, to remain in the room in which the election is being conducted at all times. A representative may serve part of the day and be replaced by successive representatives. The officers of election shall have discretion to permit up to three authorized representatives of each political party or independent candidate in a general or special election, or up to three authorized representatives of each candidate in a primary election, to remain in the room in which the election is being conducted. The officers shall permit one such representative for each pollbook station. However, no more than one such representative for each pollbook station or three representatives of any political party or independent candidate, whichever number is larger, shall be permitted in the room at any one time.

B. Each authorized representative shall be a qualified voter of any jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. No candidate whose name is printed on the ballot shall serve as a representative of a party or candidate for purposes of this section.

Each representative shall present to the officers of election a written statement designating him to be a representative of the party or candidate that is signed by the county or city chairman of his political party, the independent candidate, or the primary candidate, as appropriate. If the county or city chairman is unavailable to sign such a written designation, such a designation may be made by the state or district chairman of the political party. However, no written designation made by a state or district chairman shall take precedence over a written designation made by the county or city chairman. Such statement, bearing the chairman's or candidate's original signature, may be photocopied, and such photocopy shall be as valid as if the copy had been signed.

C. Authorized representatives shall be allowed, whether in a regular polling place or central absentee voter precinct, to be close enough to the voter check-in table to be able to hear and see what is occurring; however, such observation shall not violate the secret vote provision of Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution of Virginia or otherwise interfere with the orderly process of the election. Any representative who complains to the chief officer of election that he is unable to hear or see the process may accept the chief officer's decision or, if dissatisfied, he may immediately appeal the decision to the local electoral board or general registrar.

D. Authorized representatives shall be allowed, whether in a regular polling place or central absentee voter precinct, to use a handheld wireless communications device but shall not be allowed to use such a device to capture a digital image inside the polling place or central absentee voter precinct. The officers of election may prohibit the use of cellular telephones or other handheld wireless communications devices if such use will result in a violation of subsection A or C of § 24.2-604 or § 24.2-607.

E. Authorized representatives shall not be allowed in any case to provide assistance to any voter as permitted under § 24.2-649 or to wear any indication that they are authorized to assist voters either inside the polling place or within 40 feet of any entrance to the polling place.

F. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this section to remain outside of the prohibited area.

2020, c. 561.

§ 24.2-604.5. Polling places; presence of additional persons authorized.

A. A local electoral board or general registrar may authorize in writing the presence in the polling place of additional neutral observers as may be deemed appropriate, except as otherwise prohibited or limited by the provisions of § 24.2-604. Such observers shall comply with the restrictions in subsections A and C of § 24.2-604 and shall not be allowed in any case to provide assistance to any voter as permitted under § 24.2-649 or to wear any indication that they are authorized to assist voters either inside the polling place or within 40 feet of any entrance to the polling place. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this subsection to remain outside of the prohibited area.

B. The officers of election shall permit representatives of the news media to visit and film or photograph inside the polling place for a reasonable and limited period of time while the polls are open. However, the media (i) shall comply with the restrictions in subsections A and C of § 24.2-604; (ii) shall not film or photograph any person who specifically asks the media representative at that time that he not be filmed or photographed; (iii) shall not film or photograph the voter or the ballot in such a way that divulges how any individual voter is voting; and (iv) shall not film or photograph the voter list or any other voter record or material at the precinct in such a way that it divulges the name or other information concerning any individual voter. Any interviews with voters, candidates, or other persons; live broadcasts; or taping of reporters' remarks shall be conducted outside of the polling place and the prohibited area. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this subsection to leave the polling place and the prohibited area.

2020, c. 561.

§ 24.2-604.6. Polling places; simulated election activities.

Minors may be permitted to enter a polling place on the day of the election to vote in a simulated election at that polling place, provided that the local electoral board or general registrar has determined that such polling place can accommodate simulated election activities without interference or substantial delay in the orderly conduct of the official voting process. Persons supervising or working in a simulated election in which minors vote may remain within such polling place. The local electoral board or general registrar and the chief officer for the polling place shall exercise authority over, but shall have no responsibility for the administration of, simulated election related activities at the polling place.

2020, c. 561.

§ 24.2-605. Loudspeakers prohibited at polls; penalty.

Notwithstanding any contrary statute or ordinance of a county, city, or town, except for school purposes or in an emergency, no loudspeaker shall be used within 300 feet of a polling place on an election day. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

1976, c. 616, § 24.1-96.1; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-606. Preservation of order at elections.

The officers of election, with the consent of the chief law-enforcement officer for the county or city, may designate a law-enforcement officer who shall attend at the polling place and preserve order inside and outside the polling place. If no law-enforcement officer is in attendance, the officers of election may appoint, in writing, one or more persons specially, who shall have all the powers of a law-enforcement officer in the polling place and within the prohibited area prescribed by § 24.2-604.

Code 1950, § 24-189; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-103; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-607. Prohibited conduct; intimidation of voters; disturbance of election; how prevented; penalties.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to hinder, intimidate, or interfere with any qualified voter so as to prevent the voter from casting a secret ballot. The officers of election may order a person violating this subsection to cease such action. If such person does not promptly desist, the officers of election, or a majority of them, may order the arrest of such person by any person authorized by law to make arrests, and, by their warrant, may commit him to the county or city jail, as the case may be, for a period not exceeding twenty-four hours. Any person violating this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. No person shall conduct himself in a noisy or riotous manner at or about the polls so as to disturb the election or insult or abuse an officer of election. Any person authorized to make arrests may forthwith arrest a person engaging in such conduct and bring him before the officers of the election, and they, by their warrant, may commit him to the county or city jail, as the case may be, for a period not exceeding twenty-four hours; but they shall permit him to vote if he is so entitled.

Code 1950, §§ 24-190, 24-192; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-104; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-608. Officers to decide order of voting.

The officers of election shall promptly decide any dispute as to the order in which qualified voters may vote, deciding who first offered, or if two or more offered at the same time, selecting the one who may vote first.

Code 1950, § 24-187; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-102; 1993, c. 641.

§ 24.2-609. Voting booths.

Each electoral board or general registrar shall provide at each polling place in the county or city one or more voting booths. At least one booth shall be an enclosure which permits the voter to vote by printed ballot in secret and is equipped with a writing surface, operative writing implements, and adequate lighting. Enclosures for voting equipment shall provide for voting in secret and be adequately lighted. "Voting booth" includes enclosures for voting printed ballots and for voting equipment.

Code 1950, §§ 24-185, 24-302; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-100, 24.1-212; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1985, c. 458; 1993, c. 641; 2014, cc. 540, 576; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-610. Materials at polling places.

A. The Department shall provide copies of this title to each member of the electoral boards and to each general registrar for each precinct in the county or city. The general registrar shall furnish a copy of this title to each precinct for the use of the officers of election on election day.

B. Pursuant to subdivision A 7 of § 24.2-404, the Department shall transmit to the general registrar of each county and city pollbooks for each precinct in which the election is to be held. For each primary and general election, the general registrar shall produce and distribute a printed copy of the pollbook to each precinct. The data elements printed or otherwise provided for each voter on the pollbooks shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.

C. The electoral board, general registrar, and officers of election shall comply with the requirements of this title and the instructions of the State Board to ensure that the pollbooks, ballots, voting equipment keys, and other materials and supplies required to conduct the election are delivered to the polling place before 6:00 a.m. on the day of the election and delivered to the proper official following the election.

Code 1950, §§ 24-115, 24-207 through 24-209, 24-256, 24-306; 1950, p. 245; 1956, c. 235; 1958, c. 605; 1962, c. 536; 1968, c. 141; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-57, 24.1-107, 24.1-134, 24.1-316; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, cc. 620, 794; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515, § 24.1-100.1; 1978, c. 778; 1981, c. 425; 1982, c. 650; 1985, c. 458; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2016, cc. 18, 492; 2020, c. 297.

§ 24.2-611. Form and signing of pollbooks; records of persons voting; electronic pollbooks.

A. The following oath shall be on a form prescribed by the State Board, administered to all officers of election, and kept by the officers of election with the pollbook:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will perform the duties for this election according to law and the best of my ability, and that I will studiously endeavor to prevent fraud, deceit, and abuse in conducting this election."

The oath shall be administered to each officer of election by the general registrar, a member of the electoral board, or an officer of election designated by the general registrar and secretary of the electoral board, who shall be so identified on the form. The oath shall be signed by each officer of election and the person administering the oath. The pollbook shall be marked to identify the election for which it is used.

B. The Department shall provide the pollbook pursuant to subdivision A 7 of § 24.2-404. The pollbook shall (i) provide a space for the officer of election to record the name and consecutive number of the voter at the time he offers to vote and (ii) be retained in accordance with the provisions governing pollbooks in this title. The Department shall make available a numerical check sheet required to be used with pollbooks in printed form to determine the consecutive number to be recorded with the name of the voter by the officer of election. In electronic pollbooks, the consecutive number shall be entered automatically when the officer of election records that the voter has voted. When the name and number of the last qualified voter have been entered on the pollbook, the officer of election responsible for that pollbook shall sign a statement on the check sheet, or on a separate form if an electronic pollbook is used, certifying the number of qualified registrants who have voted. The Department shall provide instructions to the local electoral boards, general registrars, and officers of election for the conduct of the election and for procedures for entering a voting record for each voter and recording each voter's name, including voters unable to enter the polling place, and for verifying the accurate entry of the voting record for each registrant on the Virginia Voter Registration System. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, for any election held on or after November 1, 2020, all pollbooks provided by the Department shall be in electronic form only.

C. The Department shall incorporate safeguards to assure that the records of the election, including the pollbook, voter count sheets, or other alternative records, will provide promptly an accurate and secure record of those who have voted.

D. Any locality may expend its own funds to purchase electronic pollbooks that have been approved for use in elections by the State Board.

E. The general registrar shall produce a paper copy of the pollbook specified in subsection B for each precinct in any primary or general election.

F. In the event that the electronic pollbooks for a precinct fail to operate properly and no alternative voter list or pollbook is available, the officers of election, in accordance with the instructions and materials approved by the State Board, shall (i) maintain a written list of the persons voting and (ii) provide to each person voting a provisional ballot to be cast as provided in § 24.2-653.

Code 1950, § 24-257; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-135; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1976, c. 616; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1993, c. 641; 1994, c. 321; 1999, c. 810; 2000, c. 2; 2001, c. 839; 2002, cc. 66, 216, 785, 819; 2003, c. 1015; 2008, cc. 88, 424; 2010, c. 812; 2011, c. 810; 2020, c. 297.