Code of Virginia

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

Article 2. Ballots.

§ 24.2-612. List of offices and candidates filed with Department of Elections and checked for accuracy; when ballots printed; number required.

Immediately after the expiration of the time provided by law for a candidate for any office to qualify to have his name printed on the official ballot and prior to printing the ballots for an election, each general registrar shall forward to the Department of Elections a list of the county, city, or town offices to be filled at the election and the names of all candidates who have filed for each office. In addition, each general registrar shall forward the name of any candidate who failed to qualify with the reason for his disqualification. On that same day, the general registrar shall also provide a copy of the notice to each disqualified candidate. The notice shall be sent by email or regular mail to the address on the candidate's certificate of candidate qualification, and such notice shall be deemed sufficient. The Department of Elections shall promptly advise the general registrar of the accuracy of the list. The failure of any general registrar to send the list to the Department of Elections for verification shall not invalidate any election.

Each general registrar shall have printed the number of ballots he determines will be sufficient to conduct the election. Such determination shall be based on the number of active registered voters and historical election data, including voter turnout, and shall be subject to the approval by the electoral board.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this title, the Department of Elections may print or otherwise provide one statewide paper ballot style for each paper ballot style in use for presidential and vice-presidential electors for use only by persons eligible to vote for those offices only under § 24.2-402 or only for federal elections under § 24.2-453. The Department of Elections may apportion or authorize the printer or vendor to apportion the costs for these ballots among the localities based on the number of ballots ordered. Any printer employed by the Department of Elections shall execute the statement required by § 24.2-616. The Department of Elections shall designate a representative to be present at the printing of such ballots and deliver them to the appropriate general registrars pursuant to § 24.2-617. Upon receipt of such paper ballots, the electoral board or the general registrar shall affix the seal of the electoral board. Thereafter, such ballots shall be handled and accounted for, and the votes counted as the Department of Elections shall specifically direct.

The general registrar shall make printed ballots available for absentee voting not later than 45 days prior to any election or within three business days of the receipt of a properly completed absentee ballot application, whichever is later. In the case of a special election, excluding for federal offices, if time is insufficient to meet the applicable deadline established herein, then the general registrar shall make printed ballots available as soon after the deadline as possible. For the purposes of this chapter, making printed ballots available includes mailing of such ballots or electronic transmission of such ballots pursuant to § 24.2-706 to a covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, who has applied for an absentee ballot pursuant to § 24.2-701. Not later than five days after absentee ballots are made available, each general registrar shall report to the Department of Elections, in writing on a form approved by the Department of Elections, whether he has complied with the applicable deadline.

Only the names of candidates for offices to be voted on in a particular election district shall be printed on the ballots for that election district.

The general registrar shall send to the Department of Elections a statement of the number of ballots ordered to be printed, proofs of each printed ballot for verification, and copies of each final ballot. If the Department of Elections finds that, in its opinion, the number of ballots ordered to be printed by any general registrar is not sufficient, it may direct the general registrar to order the printing of a reasonable number of additional ballots.

Code 1950, §§ 24-213, 24-214; 1952, c. 4; 1954, c. 513; 1956, c. 395; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-109; 1972, c. 620; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2009, c. 522; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2011, cc. 427, 458; 2012, c. 353; 2013, c. 684; 2014, cc. 540, 576; 2015, c. 313; 2016, cc. 18, 492; 2017, cc. 167, 356; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, c 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-612.1. Ballots; death, withdrawal, or disqualification of candidates.

In the case of the death, withdrawal, or disqualification of any candidate, other than a party nominee, who has qualified to have his name printed on the ballot for any election other than a presidential or primary election, the Department of Elections shall take into account the time available before the election and the status of the ballots for the election and shall have authority to direct the electoral boards on how to proceed to print the ballot without the candidate's name, correct the ballot to delete the candidate's name, or provide notice to voters of the death, withdrawal, or disqualification of the candidate. If ballots are not corrected to delete the candidate's name, the general registrar shall provide a list of candidates who have withdrawn to be posted in each polling place and to be available to the public. If election information is posted on the official website for the county or city, notice of the candidate's withdrawal shall also be posted on that website.

The Department shall have like authority in the case of the death, withdrawal, or disqualification of a party nominee subject to the provisions of Article 5 (§ 24.2-539 et seq.) of Chapter 5.

1995, c. 329; 2017, c. 346.

§ 24.2-612.2. Notice of withdrawal of candidates.

A candidate who has qualified to have his name printed on the ballot for an election shall not be deemed to have withdrawn from such election until he has submitted a signed written notice declaring his intent to withdraw from such election and that notice has been received by the general registrar. Such notice shall be provided to the general registrar of the county or city in which he resides. In the case of an election held in more than one county or city, the recipient general registrar shall notify the appropriate general registrars of the candidate's withdrawal.

The Department shall include in its candidate guidance documents the requirements and process for candidate withdrawal.

2017, c. 346.

§ 24.2-613. Form of ballot.

A. The ballots shall comply with the requirements of this title and the standards prescribed by the State Board. The names of all candidates to appear on the ballots shall be in the same font, size, and style.

B. For elections for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices only, each candidate who has been nominated by a political party or in a primary election shall be identified by the name of his political party. Independent candidates shall be identified by the term "Independent." For the purpose of this section, any Independent candidate may, by producing sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a "recognized political party" to the State Board, have the term "Independent" on the ballot converted to that of a "recognized political party" on the ballot and be treated on the ballot in a manner consistent with the candidates nominated by political parties. For the purpose of this section, a "recognized political party" is defined as an organization that, for at least six months preceding the filing of its nominee for the office, has had in continual existence a state central committee composed of registered voters residing in each congressional district of the Commonwealth, a party plan and bylaws, and a duly elected state chairman and secretary. A letter from the state chairman of a recognized political party certifying that a candidate is the nominee of that party and also signed by such candidate accepting that nomination shall constitute sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a recognized political party. The name of the political party, the name of the "recognized political party," or term "Independent" may be shown by an initial or abbreviation to meet ballot requirements.

C. Except as provided for primary elections, the State Board shall determine by lot the order of the political parties, and the names of all candidates for a particular office shall appear together in the order determined for their parties. In an election district in which more than one person is nominated by one political party for the same office, the candidates' names shall appear alphabetically in their party groups under the name of the office, with sufficient space between party groups to indicate them as such. For the purpose of this section, except as provided for presidential elections in § 24.2-614, "recognized political parties" shall be treated as a class; the order of the recognized political parties within the class shall be determined by lot by the State Board; and the class shall follow the political parties as defined by § 24.2-101 and precede the independent class. Independent candidates shall be treated as a class under "Independent", and their names shall be placed on the ballot after the political parties and recognized political parties. Where there is more than one independent candidate for an office, their names shall appear on the ballot in an order determined by the priority of 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 as in the case of a tie vote for the office.

For the purposes of this subsection, "time of filing for the office" means the time at which an independent candidate has filed his petition signature pages with a number of signatures at least equal to the number required for the office pursuant to § 24.2-506. In the case of an office for which no petition is required, "time of filing for the office" means the time at which the candidate has filed his completed statement of qualification pursuant to § 24.2-501.

No individual's name shall appear on the ballot more than once for the same office.

D. On any ballot, all offices to be elected shall appear before any questions presented to the voters.

E. In preparing the printed ballots for general, special, and primary elections, the State Board and general registrars shall cause to be printed in not less than 10-point type, immediately below the title of any office, a statement of the number of candidates for whom votes may be cast for that office. For any office to which only one candidate can be elected, the following language shall be used: "Vote for only one." For any office to which more than one candidate can be elected, the following language shall be used: "Vote for not more than ____."

F. Any locality that uses machine-readable ballots at one or more precincts, including any central absentee precinct, may, with the approval of the State Board, use a printed reproduction of the machine-readable ballot in lieu of the official machine-readable ballot. Such reproductions shall be printed and otherwise handled in accordance with all laws and procedures that apply to official paper ballots.

Code 1950, §§ 24-215, 24-217; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-111, 24.1-113; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 620; 1973, c. 30; 1974, c. 428; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1993, c. 641; 2000, cc. 282, 514, 866; 2002, c. 738; 2008, c. 544; 2010, c. 204; 2014, cc. 540, 568, 576; 2016, c. 493; 2017, cc. 352, 364; 2018, cc. 464, 537; 2019, cc. 99, 283, 289.

§ 24.2-614. Preparation and form of presidential election ballots.

As soon as practicable after the seventy-fourth day before the presidential election, the State Board shall certify to the general registrar of each county and city the form of official ballot for the presidential election which shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. Each general registrar shall have the official ballot printed at least 45 days preceding the election.

The ballot shall contain the name of each political party and the party group name, if any, specified by the persons naming electors by petition pursuant to § 24.2-543. Below the party name in parentheses, the ballot shall contain the words "Electors for __________, President and __________, Vice President" with the blanks filled in with the names of the candidates for President and Vice President for whom the candidates for electors are expected to vote in the Electoral College.

Groups of petitioners qualifying for a party name under § 24.2-543 shall be treated as a class; the order of the groups shall be determined by lot by the State Board; and the groups shall immediately precede the independent class on the ballot. The names of the candidates within the independent class shall be listed alphabetically.

Code 1950, §§ 24-215, 24-290.4; 1952, c. 330; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-111, 24.1-160; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 620; 1973, c. 30; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1982, c. 650; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 209; 2002, c. 738; 2016, cc. 18, 492; 2018, c. 464.

§ 24.2-615. Separate questions for proposed constitutional amendments, etc.; uniform ballots.

A separate question shall be presented for each of the following: proposed amendments to the Constitution submitted to the qualified voters at one election; proposals submitted to the qualified voters after a constitutional convention pursuant to Article XII, Section 2 of the Constitution; candidates for President, Vice President, and presidential electors; and candidates for the Congress of the United States.

The form of the ballot shall be the same throughout the election district in which the same candidates are running to fill the same offices and throughout the district in which a question is submitted to the voters.

Code 1950, § 24-216; 1952, c. 581; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-112; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1993, c. 641; 2018, c. 464.

§ 24.2-616. Duties of printer; statement; penalty.

The printer contracting with or employed by the electoral board or general registrar to print the ballots shall sign a statement before the work is commenced agreeing, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that he will print the number of ballots requested by the electoral board or the general registrar in accordance with the instructions given by the electoral board or the general registrar; that he will print, and permit to be printed, directly or indirectly, no more than that number; that he will at once destroy all imperfect and perfect impressions other than those required to be delivered to the general registrar; that as soon as such number of ballots is printed he will distribute the type, if any, used for such work; and that he will not communicate to anyone, in any manner, the size, style, or contents of such ballots.

A similar statement shall be required of any employee or other person engaged in the work.

Code 1950, § 24-218; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-114; 1976, c. 616; 1993, c. 641; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-617. Representative of electoral board or general registrar to be present at printing; custody of ballots; electoral board or general registrar may disclose contents, style, and size.

The electoral board or general registrar shall designate one person to be continuously present in the room in which the ballots are printed from the start to the end of the work and ensure that the undertakings of the printer's statement are complied with strictly. For the discharge of this duty the person, other than a board member, shall receive at least $20 per day.

As soon as the ballots are printed they shall be securely wrapped and sealed, and the designated person shall assure their delivery to the general registrar, allowing no one to examine them until delivery.

The designated person shall sign a statement, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that he has faithfully performed his duties, that the printer has complied with the requirements of law, and that only the requested number of ballots have been printed and are being delivered to the general registrar.

This section shall not be construed to prohibit any electoral board or general registrar from publishing or otherwise disclosing the contents, style, and size of ballots, which information electoral boards or general registrars are authorized to publish or otherwise disclose.

Code 1950, §§ 24-219, 24-220.1, 24-221; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-115; 1980, c. 639; 1993, c. 641; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-618. Delivery of ballots to electoral board or general registrar; checking and recording number.

A member of the electoral board or the general registrar, or an employee of the board or general registrar designated by the electoral board or the general registrar, shall receive the ballots after they are printed and shall certify the number of ballots received. This certificate shall be filed with other materials for the election.

Code 1950, §§ 24-223, 24-224; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-116; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 460; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-619. Sealing ballots.

A member of the electoral board or the general registrar, or some other person designated by the electoral board or the general registrar, shall cause the seal of the board to be affixed in his presence to every ballot printed as provided in this chapter. The seal shall be on the side reverse from that on which the names of the candidates appear. The seal may be affixed on the ballot either mechanically or manually. The member of the board, general registrar, or other person designated shall sign a statement, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that the seal of the electoral board was affixed to the ballots in his presence in the manner prescribed by law, setting forth the name of every person taking part in the affixing of the seal, and stating that he has faithfully performed his duties. His statement shall be filed with the minutes of the board. For his services in causing the seal to be affixed to the ballots, the person designated, other than a board member or general registrar, shall receive at least $20 per day.

Any person designated to affix the seal to the ballots shall return the seal to the secretary as soon as the affixing of the seal to the ballots is completed.

Every person taking part in affixing the seal to the ballots or in placing the ballots in packages shall give his statement, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that he has faithfully performed his duties and that he will not divulge to anyone the contents of the ballots or any part thereof. These statements shall be filed with the minutes of the board.

Code 1950, §§ 24-225, 24-228, 24-229; 1950, p. 165; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-117, 24.1-118; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1980, c. 639; 1993, c. 641; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-620. Dividing ballots into packages for each precinct; delivery of absentee ballots.

The electoral board or general registrar shall cause to be made, in the presence of at least one member of the board or a designee of the board, one or more packages of ballots for each precinct in the election district. Each package shall contain a number of ballots determined by the board or general registrar. Each of these packages shall be securely sealed in the presence of a member of the board or such designated person so that the ballots shall be invisible, and so that the packages cannot be readily opened without detection. On each of the packages shall be endorsed the name of the precinct for which it is intended and the number of ballots therein contained. Thereafter the packages designated for each precinct shall be delivered to the general registrar and remain in his exclusive possession until delivered by him, or by a board member, a designee of the board, or an assistant registrar, to the officers of election of each precinct as provided in § 24.2-621.

There shall be sufficient ballots for those offering to vote absentee delivered to the general registrar by the deadline stated in § 24.2-612. Any such ballots remaining unused at the close of the polls on election day shall be sent by the general registrar to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city.

Code 1950, §§ 24-226, 24-227; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-119; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 620; 1982, c. 650; 1984, c. 480; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 460; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

§ 24.2-621. Delivery of packages to officers; opening packages.

Before every election the secretary of the electoral board, or another board member, board employee, or the general or an assistant registrar designated by the board, shall deliver to an officer of election of each precinct the official ballots for that precinct and obtain a receipt for the package or packages and a certificate that the seals are unbroken. If the secretary or other such designated person is unable to deliver the official ballots, another member of the board shall deliver the ballots.

Before opening the polls, the officers of election shall open the sealed package and carefully count the ballots. If there is more than one package, additional packages shall be opened as needed and the ballots counted as provided in this section.

Code 1950, §§ 24-230, 24-231; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-120, 24.1-121; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 460.

§ 24.2-622. Unofficial sample ballots.

Sample ballots not authorized by electoral boards and provided by electoral boards or general registrars to precincts pursuant to § 24.2-641 are permitted to be printed and circulated, which includes publication in newspapers or on the Internet.

Such sample ballots shall not be printed on white paper and shall include on their face the words "sample ballot" in a font size no smaller than 24 point.

All sample ballots, excepting those official sample ballots authorized by electoral boards and provided by electoral boards or general registrars to precincts pursuant to § 24.2-641, are advertisements for purposes of Chapter 9.5 (§ 24.2-955 et seq.). Voters may take sample ballots into the voting booth or enclosure, but shall not give, tender, or exhibit such sample ballot to any person, other than an assistant designated under § 24.2-649, while inside the polling place or within the prohibited area designated by § 24.2-604.

Code 1950, § 24-240; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-122; 1974, c. 428; 1979, c. 265; 1993, c. 641; 2002, c. 487; 2003, c. 1015; 2005, c. 370; 2006, cc. 787, 892; 2020, c. 283.

§ 24.2-623. Ballot containers to be supplied by governing bodies; construction and custody.

The governing body of each county and city shall provide a ballot container for each precinct. The container shall have a lock and key and an opening of sufficient size to admit a single folded or unfolded ballot and no more. The containers shall be kept by the electoral boards for use in the precincts.

Code 1950, § 24-241; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-123; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015; 2014, cc. 540, 576.

§ 24.2-624. Opening and closing ballot containers; opening polls.

Immediately before the opening of the polls, an officer of election shall open the ballot containers in the presence of the political party or candidate representatives authorized to be present for the examination of voting equipment pursuant to § 24.2-639, if such representatives are available. The officers shall inspect the containers to ensure that they are empty, lock them, and deliver the key to one of the officers. One of the officers shall forthwith proclaim that the polls are open. The containers shall not be opened until the close of the polls and shall then be opened for the purpose of counting the ballots therein. The containers shall be kept in view of those voting within the polling place during the hours of the election.

Code 1950, §§ 24-242, 24-243; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-124; 1972, c. 620; 1993, c. 641; 2003, c. 1015.