Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 7. Absentee Voting
7/28/2021

Chapter 7. Absentee Voting.

§ 24.2-700. Persons entitled to vote by absentee ballot.

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in accordance with the provisions of this chapter in any election in which he is qualified to vote.

Code 1950, § 24-319; 1952, c. 488; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-227; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 620; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1981, c. 425; 1983, c. 461; 1988, c. 6; 1989, c. 320; 1993, cc. 414, 641; 1995, c. 157; 1998, c. 254; 2000, c. 378; 2001, c. 631; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2008, cc. 425, 880; 2009, cc. 405, 873; 2010, c. 244; 2012, c. 353; 2017, c. 631; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 561, 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-701. Application for absentee ballot.

A. The Department shall furnish each general registrar with a sufficient number of applications for official absentee ballots. The registrars shall furnish applications to persons requesting them.

The Department shall implement a system that enables eligible persons to request and receive an absentee ballot application electronically through the Internet. Electronic absentee ballot applications shall be in a form approved by the State Board.

Except as provided in § 24.2-703 or 24.2-703.1, a separate application shall be completed for each election in which the applicant offers to vote. An application for an absentee ballot may be accepted the later of (i) 12 months before an election or (ii) the day following any election held in the twelfth month prior to the election in which the applicant is applying to vote.

An application that is completed in person at the same time that the applicant registers to vote shall be held and processed no sooner than the fifth day after the date that the applicant registered to vote; however, this requirement shall not be applicable to any covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452.

Any application received before the ballots are printed shall be held and processed as soon as the printed ballots for the election are available.

For the purposes of this chapter, the general registrar's office shall be open a minimum of eight hours between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on the first and second Saturday immediately preceding all elections.

Unless the applicant is disabled, all applications for absentee ballots shall be signed by the applicant who shall state, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that to the best of his knowledge and belief the facts contained in the application are true and correct and that he has not and will not vote in the election at any other place in Virginia or in any other state. If the applicant is unable to sign the application, a person assisting the applicant will note this fact on the applicant signature line and provide his signature, name, and address.

B. Applications for absentee ballots shall be completed in the following manner:

1. An application completed in person shall be completed only in the office of the general registrar and signed by the applicant in the presence of a registrar. The applicant shall provide one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643, or if he is unable to present one of the specified forms of identification listed in that subsection, he shall sign a statement, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that he is the named registered voter he claims to be. An applicant who requires assistance in voting by reason of a physical disability or an inability to read or write, and who requests assistance pursuant to § 24.2-649, may be assisted in preparation of this statement in accordance with that section. The provisions of § 24.2-649 regarding voters who are unable to sign shall be followed when assisting a voter in completing this statement. Any applicant who does not show one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643 or does not sign this statement shall be offered a provisional ballot under the provisions of § 24.2-653. The State Board of Elections shall provide instructions to the general registrar for the handling and counting of such provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01 and this section.

This paragraph shall apply in the case of any individual who is required by subparagraph (b) of 52 U.S.C. § 21083 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to show identification the first time he votes in a federal election in the state. At such election, such individual shall present (i) a current and valid photo identification or (ii) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Such individual who desires to vote in person but does not show one of the forms of identification specified in this paragraph shall be offered a provisional ballot under the provisions of § 24.2-653. The identification requirements of subsection B of § 24.2-643 and subsection A of § 24.2-653 shall not apply to such voter at such election. The Department of Elections shall provide instructions to the electoral boards for the handling and counting of such provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01 and this section.

2. Any other application may be made by mail, by electronic or telephonic transmission to a facsimile device if one is available to the office of the general registrar or to the office of the Department if a device is not available locally, or by other means. The application shall be on a form furnished by the registrar or as specified in subdivision 3. The application shall be made to the appropriate registrar no later than 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh day prior to the election in which the applicant offers to vote.

3. The application of any covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, may be on a federal postcard application, as defined in § 24.2-452. The federal postcard application may be accepted the later of (i) 12 months before an election or (ii) the day following any election held in the twelfth month prior to the election in which the applicant is applying to vote.

C. Applications for absentee ballots shall contain the following information:

1. The applicant's printed name and the last four digits of the applicant's social security number. However, an applicant completing the application in person shall not be required to provide the last four digits of his social security number;

2. A statement that he is registered in the county or city in which he offers to vote and his residence address in such county or city. Any person temporarily residing outside the United States shall provide the last date of residency at his Virginia residence address, if that residence is no longer available to him. Any covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, who is not a registered voter may file the applications to register and for a ballot simultaneously; and

3. The complete address to which the ballot is to be sent directly to the applicant, unless the application is made in person at a time when the printed ballots for the election are available and the applicant chooses to vote in person at the time of completing his application. The address given shall be (i) the address of the applicant on file in the registration records; (ii) the address at which he will be located while absent from his county or city; or (iii) the address at which he will be located while temporarily confined due to a disability or illness. No ballot shall be sent to, or in care of, any other person.

D. An application shall not be required for any registered voter appearing in person to cast an absentee ballot pursuant to § 24.2-701.1.

Code 1950, § 24.1-228; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-228.1; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, cc. 620, 621; 1973, c. 30; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 490; 1978, c. 778; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1982, c. 650; 1983, c. 461; 1988, c. 8; 1989, c. 320; 1992, c. 288; 1993, cc. 414, 641; 1996, c. 295; 1998, c. 254; 2000, cc. 378, 863; 2001, cc. 621, 631, 793; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2003, c. 478; 2004, c. 410; 2006, c. 438; 2007, c. 315; 2008, cc. 386, 425, 880; 2009, cc. 405, 873; 2010, c. 244; 2011, cc. 427, 458; 2012, cc. 353, 612, 838, 839; 2013, cc. 535, 620, 725; 2015, cc. 314, 644, 645; 2017, c. 631; 2018, c. 595; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 289, 561, 735, 1064, 1065, 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-701.1. Absentee voting in person.

A. Absentee voting in person shall be available on the forty-fifth day prior to any election and shall continue until 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. In the case of a special election, excluding for federal offices, if time is insufficient between the issuance of the writ calling for the special election and the date of the special election, absentee voting in person shall be available as soon as possible after the issuance of the writ.

Any registered voter offering to vote absentee in person shall provide his name and his residence address in the county or city in which he is offering to vote. After verifying that the voter is a registered voter of that county or city, the general registrar shall enroll the voter's name and address on the absentee voter applicant list maintained pursuant to § 24.2-706.

Except as provided in subsection F, a registered voter voting by absentee ballot in person shall provide one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643. If he does not show one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643, he shall be allowed to vote after signing a statement, subject to felony penalties for false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that he is the named registered voter he claims to be. A voter who requires assistance in voting by reason of a physical disability or an inability to read or write, and who requests assistance pursuant to § 24.2-649, may be assisted in preparation of this statement in accordance with that section. The provisions of § 24.2-649 regarding voters who are unable to sign shall be followed when assisting a voter in completing this statement. A voter who does not show one of the forms of identification specified in this subsection or does not sign this statement shall be offered a provisional ballot under the provisions of § 24.2-653. The State Board shall provide instructions to the general registrar for the handling and counting of such provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01 and this section.

B. Absentee voting in person shall be available during regular business hours. The electoral board of each county and city shall provide for absentee voting in person in the office of the general registrar or a voter satellite office established pursuant to § 24.2-701.2. For purposes of this chapter, such offices shall be open to the public a minimum of eight hours between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on the first and second Saturday immediately preceding all elections. The electoral board or general registrar may provide for absentee voting in person in such offices on Sundays. Any applicant who is in line to cast his ballot when the office of the general registrar or voter satellite office closes shall be permitted to cast his absentee ballot that day.

C. The general registrar may provide for the casting of absentee ballots in person pursuant to this section on voting systems. The Department shall prescribe the procedures for use of voting systems. The procedures shall provide for absentee voting in person on voting systems that have been certified and are currently approved by the State Board. The procedures shall be applicable and uniformly applied by the Department to all localities using comparable voting systems.

D. At least two officers of election shall be present during all hours that absentee voting in person is available and shall represent the two major political parties, except in the case of a party primary, when they may represent the party conducting the primary. However, such requirement shall not apply when (i) voting systems that are being used pursuant to subsection C are located in the office of the general registrar or voter satellite office and (ii) the general registrar or an assistant registrar is present.

E. The Department shall include absentee ballots voted in person in its instructions for the preparation, maintenance, and reporting of ballots, pollbooks, records, and returns.

F. This subsection shall apply in the case of any individual who is required by subparagraph (b) of 52 U.S.C. § 21083 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to show identification the first time he votes in a federal election in the state. At such election, such individual shall present (i) a current and valid photo identification or (ii) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Such individual who desires to vote in person but who does not show one of the forms of identification specified in this subsection shall be offered a provisional ballot under the provisions of § 24.2-653. The identification requirements of subsection B of § 24.2-643 and subsection A of § 24.2-653 shall not apply to such voter at such election. The Department of Elections shall provide instructions to the electoral boards for the handling and counting of such provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01 and this section.

2019, cc. 278, 668, 669; 2020, cc. 735, 856, 1064, 1065, 1149, 1151, 1201; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 204.

§ 24.2-701.2. Absentee voting in person; voter satellite offices.

A. The governing body of any county or city may establish, by ordinance, voter satellite offices to be used in the locality for absentee voting in person. The governing body may establish as many offices as it deems necessary. No change in, including the creation or abolishment of, any voter satellite office shall be enacted within 60 days next preceding any general election. Notice shall be published prior to enactment in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality once a week for two successive weeks.

B. Any voter satellite office shall be in a public building owned or leased by the county, city, or town within the county and may be in a facility that is owned or leased by the Commonwealth and used as a location for Department of Motor Vehicles facilities or as an office of the general registrar. Such location shall be deemed the equivalent of the office of the general registrar for the purposes of completing the application for an absentee ballot in person pursuant to §§ 24.2-701 and 24.2-706. Any such location shall have adequate facilities for the protection of all elections materials produced in the process of absentee voting in person, the voted and unvoted absentee ballots, and any voting systems in use at the location.

C. Voter satellite offices shall be accessible to qualified voters as required by the provisions of the Virginians with Disabilities Act (§ 51.5-1 et seq.), the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (52 U.S.C. § 20101 et seq.), and the Americans with Disabilities Act relating to public services (42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.). The State Board shall provide instructions to the local electoral boards and general registrars to assist the localities in complying with the requirements of the acts.

D. The governing body of each county, city, and town shall provide funds to enable the general registrar to provide adequate facilities at each voter satellite office for the conduct of elections.

E. Not later than 55 days prior to any election, the general registrar shall post notice of all voter satellite office locations in the locality and the dates and hours of operation of each location in the office of the general registrar and on the official website for the county or city. Such notice shall remain in the office of the general registrar and on the official website for the county or city for the duration of the period during which absentee voting in person is available. If the county or city does not have an official website, such notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city at least once prior to the election but not later than 55 days prior to such election.

F. If an emergency makes a voter satellite office unusable or inaccessible, the electoral board or the general registrar shall provide an alternative voter satellite office, subject to the approval of the State Board, and shall give notice of the change in the location of the voter satellite office. The general registrar shall provide notice to the voters appropriate to the circumstances of the emergency. For the purposes of this subsection, "emergency" means a rare and unforeseen combination of circumstances, or the resulting state, that calls for immediate action.

G. The provisions of subsection E of § 24.2-310 providing certain limited circumstances in which a local electoral board may approve an exception to the prohibition on the distribution of campaign materials inside the prohibited area outside of a polling place shall apply to voter satellite offices and the building in which such offices may be located.

H. A voter satellite office established pursuant to this section shall be deemed to be the equivalent of an office of the general registrar for purposes of completing an application for an absentee ballot in person pursuant to §§ 24.2-701, 24.2-701.1, and 24.2-706.

2020, cc. 856, 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-702. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2015, c. 313, cl. 2.

§ 24.2-702.1. Federal write-in absentee ballots.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, may use a federal write-in absentee ballot in any election. Such ballot shall be submitted and processed in the manner provided by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (52 U.S.C. § 20301 et seq.) and this article.

B. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a federal write-in absentee ballot submitted pursuant to subsection A shall be considered valid for purposes of simultaneously satisfying both an absentee ballot application and a completed absentee ballot, provided that the ballot is received no later than the deadline for the return of absentee ballots as provided in § 24.2-709 for the election in which the voter offers to vote, and the application contains the following information: (i) the voter's signature; however, if the voter is unable to sign, the person assisting the voter will note this fact in the voter signature box; (ii) the voter's printed name; (iii) the county or city in which he is registered and offers to vote; (iv) the residence address at which he is registered to vote; (v) his current military or overseas address; and (vi) the signature of a witness who shall sign the same application.

C. This section shall not be construed to require that an absentee ballot be sent to the absentee voter on receipt of a federal write-in absentee ballot unless the voter has also submitted an absentee ballot application pursuant to § 24.2-701.

1993, c. 813, § 24.1-228.2:1; 1993, c. 641; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2009, cc. 230, 310; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2011, cc. 427, 458; 2012, c. 353; 2015, c. 313; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-703. Application for absentee ballots for multiple elections for uniformed and overseas voters.

Any person who is eligible for a military-overseas ballot as defined in § 24.2-452 may file a single application to receive ballots for all elections in which he is eligible to vote absentee. The application shall be on a federal postcard application. An application from any person who is already registered or who is eligible for late registration under § 24.2-419 that is received by the general registrar no later than 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh day prior to the election shall be considered a standing request for absentee ballots through December 31 of the year following the calendar year of the date of the application or another shorter period the voter specifies. In the event that a second or subsequent federal postcard application is received from a voter, any previous applications shall be superseded and the duration of the most recently received application shall apply.

The general registrar shall retain the application and process the applicant's request for an absentee ballot for each election in accordance with procedures established by the State Board. The applicant shall specify by party designation the primary ballots he is requesting.

If an official reply to the application or an absentee ballot sent to the applicant is returned as undeliverable, no other ballots shall be sent. No ballot shall be sent to the applicant, and no voted ballot received from the applicant shall be valid, (i) for any election held after the voter has notified the registrar that the voter no longer wishes to be registered or (ii) after the registrar has received notification that the voter has registered to vote in another state.

1991, c. 603, § 24.1-228.1:1; 1993, c. 641; 2001, c. 793; 2004, c. 410; 2006, c. 438; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2011, cc. 427, 458; 2012, c. 353; 2020, c. 289.

§ 24.2-703.1. Permanent absentee voter list.

A. Any registered voter shall be eligible to file a special application to receive absentee ballots for all elections in which he is eligible to vote. Such application shall be on a form approved by the State Board. The absentee ballots sent to a voter on the permanent absentee voter list shall be sent to the address in the voter's registration record, except as provided in subdivision C 1.

B. In accordance with procedures established by the State Board, the general registrar shall retain the application, enroll the applicant on a permanent absentee voter list, and process the applicant's request for an absentee ballot for each succeeding election. The applicant shall specify by party designation the primary ballots he is requesting.

C. The State Board shall prescribe the process by which a voter on the permanent absentee voter list may:

1. Request that his absentee ballot for (i) a single election or (ii) a primary election and the following general election be sent to an address other than the address on his voter registration record.

2. Request a primary ballot for a political party other than the one he specified on his application for permanent absentee voter status for a single primary election.

3. Change his political party selection for all succeeding primary elections.

D. A voter shall be removed from the permanent absentee voter list if (i) the voter requests in writing to be removed from the list, (ii) the voter's registration is canceled pursuant to § 24.2-427, (iii) the voter's registration is placed on inactive status pursuant to § 24.2-428 or 24.2-428.1, or (iv) the voter moves to a different address not in the same county or city of his registration.

2001, cc. 789, 850; 2008, c 880; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 1156, 1201.

§ 24.2-703.2. Replacement absentee ballots for certain disabled or ill voters; penalty.

A person with a disability or illness who has applied for and has been sent an absentee ballot who did not receive or has lost the absentee ballot on or before the Saturday before the election may obtain a replacement absentee ballot. In such case, the voter may request a replacement absentee ballot by the close of business for the local elections office on the Saturday before election day and designate, in writing, a representative to obtain a replacement absentee ballot on his behalf from the general registrar and to return the properly completed ballot as directed by the general registrar no later than the close of polls on the day of election for which the absentee ballot is valid. The representative shall be age 18 or older and shall not be an elected official, a candidate for elected office, or the deputy, spouse, parent, or child of an elected official or candidate. The voter and representative shall complete the form prescribed by the State Board to implement the provisions of this section. The form shall include a statement signed by the voter that he did not receive the ballot or has lost the ballot. Statements on the form shall be subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016.

2002, cc. 23, 141; 2008, c. 880; 2015, cc. 644, 645; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 1149, 1151, 1201.

§ 24.2-704. Applications and ballots for persons requiring assistance in voting; penalty.

A. The application for an absentee ballot shall provide space for the applicant to indicate that he will require assistance to vote his absentee ballot by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write.

B. On receipt of an application from an applicant who indicated that he will require assistance due to a visual impairment or print disability, the general registrar shall offer to provide to the applicant a ballot marking tool with screen reader assistive technology made available pursuant to § 24.2-103.2. If the applicant opts to use such tool, the general registrar shall send by mail to him a ballot return envelope and accessible instructions provided by the Department for using such tool and returning the marked ballot. The general registrar shall cause the outer envelope containing the ballot return envelope and accessible instructions to have a tactile marking that identifies the outer envelope as the outer envelope to the voter. For purposes of this section, "tactile marking" includes a hole punch, a cut corner, or a tactile sticker.

An absentee voter using such tool shall return the marked absentee ballot in accordance with the instructions provided by the Department.

No ballot marked with the electronic ballot marking tool shall be rejected because the ballot was printed on regular paper. No ballot marked with the electronic ballot marking tool shall be rejected on the basis of the position of the voter's signature or address on the ballot return envelope as long as the voter's signature or address is anywhere on the ballot return envelope.

C. On receipt of an application from an applicant marked to indicate that he will require assistance due to any other disability or if an applicant offered the ballot marking tool pursuant to subsection B declines to use such tool, the general registrar shall deliver, with the items required by § 24.2-706, the voter assistance form furnished by the State Board pursuant to § 24.2-649. The voter and any person assisting him shall complete the form by signing the request for assistance and statement required of the assistant. If the voter is unable to sign the request, the witness will note this fact on the line for signature of voter. The provisions of § 24.2-649 shall apply to absentee voting and assistance for absentee voters. Any person who willfully violates the provisions of this section or § 24.2-649 in providing assistance to a person who is voting absentee shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

1984, c. 775, § 24.1-228.2; 1993, c. 641; 1996, c. 295; 2006, c. 242; 2008, c. 880; 2015, cc. 644, 645; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 255, 471, 522.

§ 24.2-705. Emergency applications and absentee ballots for individual emergencies.

A. Any person registered and otherwise qualified to vote may request at any time prior to 2:00 p.m. on the day preceding the election that he be permitted to vote by emergency absentee ballot with the assistance of his designated representative. The Department shall prescribe a form and the instructions for submitting such a request to the general registrar that shows that the voter requesting an emergency absentee ballot (i) was unable to apply for an absentee ballot by the deadline due to his hospitalization or illness, or the hospitalization, illness, or death of a spouse, child, or parent, or other emergency found to justify receipt of an emergency absentee ballot or (ii) will be unable to vote on election day due to his hospitalization or illness, the hospitalization, illness, or death of a spouse, child, or parent, or other emergency found to justify receipt of an emergency absentee ballot that occurred after the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot.

The representative designated by a voter for purposes of this subsection shall be age 18 or older and shall not be an elected official, a candidate for elected office, or the deputy, spouse, parent, or child of an elected official or candidate.

The requesting voter shall sign the form and state, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that to the best of his knowledge and belief the facts contained in the form are true and correct. His signature shall be witnessed by the designated representative, who shall sign and return the completed form to the office of the general registrar no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day preceding the election. If the requesting voter is blind or physically unable to sign the form, his designated representative shall write on the signature line that the voter is blind or unable to sign his form.

On receipt of the completed form and a determination of the qualification of the requesting voter to vote, the general registrar shall provide, in accordance with the applicable provisions of this chapter, an absentee ballot to the designated representative for delivery to the requesting voter.

The requesting voter shall vote the absentee ballot as provided by law and mark it in the presence of the designated representative. The designated representative shall complete a statement, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that (i) he is the designated representative of the requesting voter; (ii) he personally delivered the ballot to the voter who applied for it; (iii) in his presence, the voter marked the ballot, the ballot was placed in the envelope provided, the envelope was sealed, and the statement on its reverse side was signed by the requesting voter; and (iv) the ballot was returned, under seal, to the general registrar at the registrar's office.

The ballot shall be counted only if the ballot is received by the general registrar prior to the close of polls, and the general registrar shall deliver the ballot to the officers of election at each appropriate precinct pursuant to § 24.2-710.

B. A qualified voter may vote absentee in person in the office of the general registrar through 2:00 p.m. on the day immediately preceding the election by complying with the requirements of § 24.2-643 and affirming that one of the following emergency circumstances will prevent him from voting on election day:

1. After 12:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the election, an obligation arose that requires the voter be absent from his county or city on election day for (i) his business, profession, or occupation; (ii) the hospitalization of the voter or a member of his immediate family; or (iii) the death of a member of his immediate family. For purposes of this subdivision, "immediate family" means the child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, sibling, or spouse of the voter.

2. The voter is an officer of election who was assigned after 12:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the election to work in a precinct other than his own on election day.

C. The Commissioner of Elections may act administratively to facilitate absentee voting by qualified voters who are emergency workers or utility workers or who otherwise respond to and offer assistance to an area in which a state of emergency has been declared by an appropriate authority. These administrative actions may include central issuance and acceptance of absentee ballots for federal and state elections using the systems and procedures developed for voters who are members of a uniformed service.

1989, c. 192, § 24.1-229.1; 1990, c. 200; 1993, cc. 420, 641; 1996, c. 224; 1997, cc. 523, 539; 1999, c. 590; 2001, c. 622; 2006, c. 297; 2008, c. 880; 2015, cc. 644, 645; 2020, cc. 289, 1157, 1163; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 471.

§ 24.2-705.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2020, c. 1157, cl. 2.

§ 24.2-706. Duty of general registrar on receipt of application; statement of voter.

A. On receipt of an application for an absentee ballot, the general registrar shall enroll the name and address of each registered applicant on an absentee voter applicant list that shall be maintained in the office of the general registrar with a file of the applications received. The list shall be available for inspection and copying and the applications shall be available for inspection only by any registered voter during regular office hours. Upon request and for a reasonable fee, the Department of Elections shall provide an electronic copy of the absentee voter applicant list to any political party or candidate. Such list shall be used only for campaign and political purposes. Any list made available for inspection and copying under this section shall contain the post office box address in lieu of the residence street address for any individual who has furnished at the time of registration or subsequently, in addition to his street address, a post office box address pursuant to subsection B of § 24.2-418.

No list or application containing an individual's social security number, or any part thereof, or the individual's day and month of birth, shall be made available for inspection or copying by anyone. The Department of Elections shall prescribe procedures for general registrars to make the information in the lists and applications available in a manner that does not reveal social security numbers or parts thereof, or an individual's day and month of birth.

B. The completion and timely delivery of an application for an absentee ballot shall be construed to be an offer by the applicant to vote in the election.

The general registrar shall note on each application received whether the applicant is or is not a registered voter. In reviewing the application for an absentee ballot, the general registrar shall not reject the application of any individual because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to the application, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified to vote absentee.

C. If the application has been properly completed and signed and the applicant is a registered voter of the precinct in which he offers to vote, the general registrar shall, at the time when the printed ballots for the election are available, send by the deadline set out in § 24.2-612, obtaining a certificate or other evidence of either first-class or expedited mailing or delivery from the United States Postal Service or other commercial delivery provider, or deliver to him in person in the office of the registrar, the following items and nothing else:

1. An envelope containing the folded ballot, sealed and marked "Ballot within. Do not open except in presence of a witness."

2. An envelope for resealing the marked ballot, on which envelope is printed the following:

"Statement of Voter."

"I do hereby state, subject to felony penalties for making false statements pursuant to § 24.2-1016, that my FULL NAME is ________ (last, first, middle); that I am now or have been at some time since last November's general election a legal resident of ________ (STATE YOUR LEGAL RESIDENCE IN VIRGINIA including the house number, street name or rural route address, city, zip code); that I received the enclosed ballot(s) upon application to the registrar of such county or city; that I opened the envelope marked 'ballot within' and marked the ballot(s) in the presence of the witness, without assistance or knowledge on the part of anyone as to the manner in which I marked it (or I am returning the form required to report how I was assisted); that I then sealed the ballot(s) in this envelope; and that I have not voted and will not vote in this election at any other time or place.

Signature of Voter ____________

Date ____________________

Signature of witness ___________"

For elections held after January 1, 2004, instead of the envelope containing the above oath, an envelope containing the standard oath prescribed by the presidential designee under § 101(b)(7) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (52 U.S.C. § 20301 et seq.) shall be sent to voters who are qualified to vote absentee under that Act.

When this statement has been properly completed and signed by the registered voter and witnessed, his ballot shall not be subject to challenge pursuant to § 24.2-651.

3. An envelope, properly addressed and postage prepaid, for the return of the ballot to the general registrar by mail or by the applicant in person, or to a drop-off location.

4. Printed instructions for completing the ballot and statement on the envelope and returning the ballot. Such instructions shall include information on the sites of all drop-off locations in the county or city.

For federal elections held after January 1, 2004, for any voter who is required by subparagraph (b) of 52 U.S.C. § 21083 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to show identification the first time the voter votes in a federal election in the state, the printed instructions shall direct the voter to submit with his ballot (i) a copy of a current and valid photo identification or (ii) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Such individual who desires to vote by mail but who does not submit one of the forms of identification specified in this paragraph may cast such ballot by mail and the ballot shall be counted as a provisional ballot under the provisions of § 24.2-653.01. The Department of Elections shall provide instructions to the electoral boards for the handling and counting of such provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01 and this section.

5. For any voter entitled to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (52 U.S.C. § 20301 et seq.), information provided by the Department of Elections specific to the voting rights and responsibilities for such citizens, or information provided by the registrar specific to the status of the voter registration and absentee ballot application of such voter, may be included.

The envelopes and instructions shall be in the form prescribed by the Department of Elections.

D. The general registrar may contract with a third party for the printing, assembly, and mailing of the items set forth in subsection C. The general registrar shall provide to the contractor in a timely manner the names, addresses, precincts, and ballot styles of voters requesting an absentee ballot by mail. The vendor shall provide to the general registrar a report of the voters to whom the absentee ballot materials have been sent.

E. If the applicant completes his application in person under § 24.2-701 at a time when the printed ballots for the election are available, he may request that the general registrar send to him by mail the items set forth in subdivisions C 1 through 4, instead of casting the ballot in person. Such request shall be made no later than 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh day prior to the election in which the applicant offers to vote, and the general registrar shall send those items to the applicant by mail, obtaining a certificate or other evidence of mailing.

F. If the applicant is a covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, the general registrar, at the time when the printed ballots for the election are available, shall mail by the deadline set forth in § 24.2-612 or deliver in person to the applicant in the office of the general registrar the items as set forth in subdivisions C 1 through 4 and, if necessary, an application for registration. A certificate or other evidence of mailing shall not be required. If the applicant requests that such items be sent by electronic transmission, the general registrar, at the time when the printed ballots for the election are available but not later than the deadline set forth in § 24.2-612, shall send by electronic transmission the blank ballot, the form for the envelope for returning the marked ballot, and instructions to the voter. Such materials shall be sent using the official email address or fax number of the office of the general registrar published on the Department of Elections website. The State Board of Elections may prescribe by regulation the format of the email address used for transmitting ballots to eligible voters. A general registrar may also use electronic transmission facilities provided by the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The voted ballot shall be returned to the general registrar as otherwise required by this chapter.

G. The circuit courts shall have jurisdiction to issue an injunction to enforce the provisions of this section upon the application of (i) any aggrieved voter, (ii) any candidate in an election district in whole or in part in the court's jurisdiction where a violation of this section has occurred, or is likely to occur, or (iii) the campaign committee or the appropriate district political party chairman of such candidate. Any person who fails to discharge his duty as provided in this section through willful neglect of duty and with malicious intent shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor as provided in subsection A of § 24.2-1001.

Code 1950, §§ 24-327, 24-332, 24-333, 24-345.6, 24-345.7; 1952, c. 509; 1956, c. 525; 1958, c. 351; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-229; 1971, Ex. Sess., cc. 119, 247, 265; 1972, c. 620; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 490; 1978, c. 778; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1983, c. 461; 1988, cc. 624, 691; 1993, c. 641; 1994, cc. 633, 656; 1996, c. 253; 2000, c. 421; 2001, cc. 621, 866; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2003, cc. 247, 478; 2004, c. 410; 2006, c. 438; 2007, c. 318; 2008, cc. 106, 300, 379; 2009, cc. 345, 405, 873; 2010, cc. 213, 316, 449, 538, 645, 812; 2011, cc. 427, 458; 2012, c. 393; 2015, cc. 313, 644, 645; 2016, cc. 16, 463; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 289, 735, 1149, 1151, 1201; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 246, 471, 522.

§ 24.2-707. How ballots marked and returned.

A. On receipt of a mailed absentee ballot, the voter shall, in the presence of a witness, (i) open the sealed envelope marked "ballot within" and (ii) mark and refold the ballot, as provided in §§ 24.2-644 and 24.2-646 without assistance and without making known how he marked the ballot, except as provided by § 24.2-704.

After the voter has marked his absentee ballot, he shall (a) enclose the ballot in the envelope provided for that purpose, (b) seal the envelope, (c) fill in and sign the statement printed on the back of the envelope in the presence of a witness, who shall sign the same envelope, (d) enclose the ballot envelope and any required assistance form within the envelope directed to the general registrar, and (e) seal that envelope. A voter's failure to provide in the statement on the back of the envelope his full middle name or his middle initial shall not be a material omission, rendering his ballot void, unless the voter failed to provide in the statement on the back of the envelope his full first and last name. A voter's failure to provide the date, or any part of the date, including the year, on which he signed the statement printed on the back of the envelope shall not be considered a material omission and shall not render his ballot void. A voter's failure to have a witness sign the absentee ballot return envelope for any election held during a declared state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat shall not be considered a material omission and shall not render his ballot void.

B. A mailed absentee ballot shall be returned (i) by mail to the office of the general registrar, (ii) by the voter in person to the general registrar, or (iii) to a drop-off location established pursuant to § 24.2-707.1. For purposes of this subsection, "mail" includes a delivery by a commercial delivery service but does not include delivery by a personal courier service or other individual except as provided by §§ 24.2-703.2 and 24.2-705.

C. Failure to follow the procedures set forth in this section shall render the applicant's ballot void.

Code 1950, §§ 24-334, 24-337; 1956, c. 525; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-232; 1972, c. 620; 1973, c. 30; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1978, c. 778; 1981, c. 425; 1993, c. 641; 1996, c. 393; 1997, cc. 429, 450; 2001, cc. 617, 624; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2003, cc. 478, 1015; 2006, c. 438; 2014, cc. 453, 574, 575; 2015, cc. 313, 644, 645; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, c. 289; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 235, 471, 522.

§ 24.2-707.1. Drop-off locations for return of absentee ballots.

A. The general registrar of each county or city shall establish at the office of the general registrar and each voter satellite office in operation for an election a drop-off location for the purpose of allowing the deposit of completed absentee ballots for such election. On the day of the election, there shall also be a drop-off location at each polling place in operation for the election. The general registrar may establish additional drop-off locations within the county or city as he deems necessary. All drop-off locations shall be accessible; be on public property, unless located at a polling place; and otherwise comply with any criteria for drop-off locations set by the Department.

B. The Department shall set standards for the establishment and operation of drop-off locations, including necessary security requirements. The Department shall submit such standards annually by October 1 to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on Privileges and Elections, the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations, and the House Committee on Appropriations.

C. Not later than 55 days prior to any election, the general registrar shall post notice of the sites of the drop-off locations in the locality in the office of the general registrar and on the official website of the county or city. Such notice shall remain in the office of the general registrar and on the official website of the county or city for the duration of the period during which absentee ballots may be returned.

D. Absentee ballots shall be collected from drop-off locations in accordance with the instructions provided by the Department. Such instructions shall include chain of custody requirements and recordkeeping requirements. Absentee ballots shall be collected at least daily by (i) two officers of election or electoral board members representing the two major political parties where practicable or (ii) two employees from the office of the general registrar, unless the drop-off location is in the office of the general registrar, in which case the general registrar or an assistant general registrar may collect the absentee ballots.

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

§ 24.2-708. Return of unused ballots; voting by applicant who did not receive or lost ballot; defaced ballots.

A. Any person who has applied for and received an absentee ballot may choose not to vote absentee and shall be entitled to cast a ballot in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

1. The voter may, prior to the day of the election, return the ballot to the general registrar (i) unopened in the sealed envelope in which it was sent to him or (ii) opened and unmarked.

The general registrar shall note on the voter's record, opposite the name of the voter, the fact that the ballot was returned unused and the date of the return and shall carefully preserve the ballot with all ballots returned unused. Such ballots shall be delivered, with other returned ballots, to the officers of election on election day. The voter shall then be entitled to vote a regular ballot in the office of the general registrar, or he may choose to vote at his proper polling place or at a central absentee voter precinct on the day of the election. On the day of the election, (a) if the general registrar or an officer of election is able to confirm the return of the unused ballot, the voter shall be entitled to vote a regular ballot and (b) if the general registrar or an officer of election is unable to confirm the return of the unused ballot, the voter shall be entitled to cast a provisional ballot pursuant to § 24.2-653.1.

2. The voter may, on the day of the election, return his unused ballot to his proper polling place or central absentee voter precinct, and the unused ballot shall be preserved with other unused ballots. The voter shall then be entitled to vote a regular ballot.

3. The voter may, on the day of the election, offer to vote at his proper polling place or at a central absentee voter precinct without returning his unused ballot, and he shall be entitled to cast a provisional ballot pursuant to § 24.2-653.1.

B. Any person who has applied for and has been sent an absentee ballot but does not receive the ballot or loses the ballot shall be entitled to cast a ballot in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

1. The voter may, prior to the day of the election, present to the general registrar or officer of election a statement signed by him that he did not receive the ballot or has lost the ballot. Such statement shall be made subject to felony penalties for making false statements as pursuant to § 24.2-1016, and the voter shall then be entitled to cast a regular ballot.

2. The voter may, on the day of the election, offer to vote at his proper polling place or at a central absentee voter precinct, and he shall be entitled to cast a provisional ballot pursuant to § 24.2-653.1.

C. Any person who has applied for and has been sent an absentee ballot that has been unintentionally or accidentally defaced and rendered unfit for voting shall be entitled to cast a ballot in accordance with the provisions of this subsection.

1. The voter may, prior to the day of the election, present the defaced ballot to the general registrar or an officer of election, and the ballot shall be marked spoiled by the general registrar or an officer of election and placed in a spoiled-ballot envelope to be retained with the ballots for the election. The voter shall then be entitled to vote a regular ballot in the office of the general registrar, or he may choose to vote at his proper polling place or at a central absentee voter precinct on the day of the election. On the day of the election, (i) if the general registrar or an officer of election is able to confirm the return of the defaced ballot, the voter shall be entitled to vote a regular ballot and (ii) if the general registrar or an officer of election is unable to confirm the return of the defaced ballot, the voter shall be entitled to cast a provisional ballot pursuant to § 24.2-653.1.

2. The voter may, on the day of the election, present his defaced or unfit ballot to his proper polling place or central absentee voter precinct, and the defaced or unfit ballot shall be preserved with other spoiled ballots. The voter shall then be entitled to vote a regular ballot.

Code 1950, §§ 24-336, 24-340.1; 1954, c. 511; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-233; 1974, c. 428; 1978, c. 778; 1993, c. 641; 1999, c. 725; 2006, c. 283; 2010, c. 348; 2012, c. 645; 2014, c. 600; 2015, cc. 644, 645; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 471.

§ 24.2-709. Ballot to be returned in manner prescribed by law.

A. Any ballot returned to the office of the general registrar or to a drop-off location in any manner except as prescribed by law shall be void. Absentee ballots shall be returned to the general registrar or to a drop-off location before the closing of the polls. Any voter who is in line to return an absentee ballot at a drop-off location by 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election shall be permitted to deposit his absentee ballot. The registrar receiving the ballot shall (i) seal the ballot in an envelope with the statement or declaration of the voter, or both, attached to the outside and (ii) mark on each envelope the date, time, and manner of delivery. No returned absentee ballot shall be deemed void because (a) the inner envelope containing the voted ballot is imperfectly sealed so long as the outside envelope containing the ballot envelope is sealed or (b) it is not returned sealed in the outside envelope so long as it is returned sealed in the inner envelope.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, any absentee ballot (i) returned to the general registrar after the closing of the polls on election day but before noon on the third day after the election and (ii) postmarked on or before the date of the election shall be counted pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter if the voter is found entitled to vote. For purposes of this subsection, a postmark shall include any other official indicia of confirmation of mailing by the United States Postal Service or other postal or delivery service.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, any absentee ballot (i) received after the close of the polls on any election day, (ii) received before 5:00 p.m. on the second business day before the State Board meets to ascertain the results of the election pursuant to this title, (iii) requested on or before but not sent by the deadline for making absentee ballots available under § 24.2-612, and (iv) cast by a covered voter, as defined in § 24.2-452, shall be counted pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter if the voter is found entitled to vote. The electoral board shall prepare an amended certified abstract, which shall include the results of such ballots, and shall deliver such abstract to the State Board by the business day prior to its meeting pursuant to this title, and shall deliver a copy of such abstract to the general registrar to be available for inspection when his office is open for business.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of clause (i) of subsection B of § 24.2-427, an absentee ballot returned by a voter in compliance with § 24.2-707 and this section who dies prior to the counting of absentee ballots on election day shall be counted pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter if the voter is found to have been entitled to vote at the time that he returned the ballot.

Code 1950, § 24-328; 1956, c. 525; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-230; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1975, c. 515; 1993, c. 641; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2006, c. 297; 2010, cc. 449, 645; 2011, c. 654; 2012, c. 353; 2014, c. 580; 2015, cc. 644, 645; 2019, cc. 668, 669; 2020, cc. 288, 933, 1149, 1151, 1201; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 471, 522.

§ 24.2-709.1. Processing returned absentee ballots before election day; cure process.

A. On receipt of an absentee ballot returned in person or by mail to the office of the general registrar or to a drop-off location before election day, the general registrar shall mark the date of receipt in the voter's record and shall examine the ballot envelope to verify completion of the required voter affirmation. A voter affirmation statement shall not be deemed to be incomplete on the sole basis of the voter's failure to provide (i) his full name or his middle initial, as long as the voter provided his full first and last name, or (ii) the date, or any part of the date, including the year, on which he signed the statement.

B. If the voter affirmation has been completed as required, the general registrar may open the sealed ballot envelope and insert the ballot in optical scan counting equipment or other secure ballot container without initiating any ballot count totals. If a general registrar does not choose to do so, the sealed ballot envelope shall be deposited into a secure container provided for such purpose, in which it shall remain until the general registrar initiates the process of opening the sealed ballot envelopes deposited into the secure container and inserting such ballots into optical scan counting equipment without initiating any ballot count totals. Such process shall be at the general registrar's discretion at any time prior to the seventh day immediately preceding the election but shall be mandatory beginning on the seventh day immediately preceding the election.

At least two officers of election, one representing each political party, shall be present during all hours when sealed ballot envelopes are opened as authorized in or required by this subsection. No person present while sealed ballot envelopes are opened and ballots are inserted into counting equipment shall disclose any information concerning the ballots.

In the event that circumstances prevent a general registrar from complying with the provisions of this subsection, such failure shall not be grounds for contesting the election pursuant to Article 2 (§ 24.2-803 et seq.) of Chapter 8 and shall not invalidate the absentee ballots.

C. For any absentee ballot received by the Friday immediately preceding the day of the election, if the general registrar finds during the examination of the ballot envelope that the required voter affirmation was not correctly or completely filled out or that a procedure required by § 24.2-707 was not properly followed, and such error or failure would render the ballot void by law, the general registrar shall enter into the voter's record in the voter registration system that the absentee ballot has an issue requiring correction in order for it to be counted. This information shall be included on any absentee voter applicant list provided pursuant to subsection C of § 24.2-710.

Within three days of such finding, the registrar shall notify the voter in writing or by email of the error or failure and shall provide information to the voter on how to correct the issue so his ballot may be counted. The voter shall be entitled to make such necessary corrections before noon on the third day after the election, and his ballot shall then be counted pursuant to the procedures set forth in this chapter if he is found to be entitled to vote. No absentee ballot needing correction shall be delivered to the officers of election at the appropriate precinct until the voter is provided the opportunity to make the necessary corrections pursuant to this subsection.

The general registrar may issue a new absentee ballot to the voter if necessary and shall preserve the first ballot with other spoiled ballots.

2007, cc. 171, 281; 2012, cc. 328, 486; 2013, c. 501; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 471, 522.

§ 24.2-710. Absentee voter applicant lists.

A. The provisions of this subsection shall apply only to those localities not using an electronic pollbook. On the day before the election, the general registrar shall (i) make out in triplicate on a form prescribed by the State Board the absentee voter applicant list containing the names of all persons who applied for an absentee ballot through the third day before the election and (ii) by noon on the day before the election, deliver two copies of the list to the electoral board. The general registrar shall make out a supplementary list containing the names of all persons voting absentee in person or applying to vote absentee pursuant to § 24.2-705 for delivery by 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. The supplementary list shall be deemed part of the absentee voter applicant list and shall be prepared and delivered in accordance with the instructions of the State Board. The general registrar shall maintain one copy of the list in his office for two years as a public record open for inspection upon request during regular office hours.

B. On the day before the election, the electoral board shall deliver one copy of the list provided to it by the general registrar to the chief officer of election for each precinct. The list shall be attested by the secretary of the electoral board who shall be responsible for the delivery of the attested lists to the chief officer of election for each precinct.

Absentee ballots shall be accepted only from voters whose names appear on the attested list.

C. Upon request, the State Board shall provide an electronic copy of the absentee voter applicant list to any political party or candidate. Such lists shall be used only for campaign and political purposes. In no event shall any list furnished under this section contain (a) any voter's social security number or any part thereof, (b) any voter's day and month of birth, or (c) the residence address of any voter who has provided a post office box address to be used on public lists pursuant to § 24.2-418.

Code 1950, §§ 24-327, 24-330, 24-332, 24-333, 24-338, 24-338.1, 24-339, 24-340, 24-341, 24-342, 24-345.6, 24-345.7, 24-345.8; 1952, c. 509; 1954, cc. 511, 523, 539; 1956, c. 525; 1958, c. 351; 1962, c. 536; 1964, c. 557; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-229, 24.1-231, 24.1-234; 1971, Ex. Sess., cc. 119, 247, 265; 1972, cc. 620, 621; 1974, c. 428, § 24.1-233.1; 1975, c. 515; 1977, c. 490; 1978, c. 778; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 425; 1983, c. 461; 1988, cc. 624, 691; 1991, c. 3; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 464; 2001, cc. 622, 799; 2006, c. 297; 2010, cc. 601, 812; 2017, c. 275; 2020, cc. 735, 1157; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 471, 522.

§ 24.2-711. Duties of electoral board, general registrar, and officers of election.

A. Before the polls open, the officers of election at each precinct shall mark, for each person on the absentee voter applicant list, the letters "AB" (meaning absentee ballot) in the voting record column on the pollbook. The pollbook may be so marked prior to election day by the general registrar, the secretary of the electoral board, or staff under the direction of the general registrar or the secretary, or when the pollbook is produced by the State Board pursuant to § 24.2-404. If the pollbook has been marked prior to election day, before the polls open the officers of election at each precinct shall check the marks for accuracy and make any additions or corrections required.

The chief officer of election shall keep the copy of the absentee voter applicant list in the polling place as a public record open for inspection upon request at all times while the polls are open.

B. Before noon on the day following the election, the general registrar shall deliver all applications for absentee ballots for the election, under seal, to the clerk of the circuit court for the county or city, except that the general registrar may retain all applications for absentee ballots until the electoral board has ascertained the results of the election pursuant to § 24.2-671, and has determined the validity of and counted all provisional ballots pursuant to § 24.2-653.01, at which point all applications shall then be delivered, under seal, to the clerk of the circuit court for the county or city. The clerk shall retain the sealed applications with the counted ballots.

C. The secretary of the electoral board shall deliver all absentee ballots received after the election to the clerk of the circuit court.

Code 1950, §§ 24-330, 24-338, 24-338.1, 24-339, 24-340, 24-341, 24-342, 24-345.8; 1952, c. 509; 1954, cc. 511, 523, 539; 1956, c. 525; 1962, c. 536; 1964, c. 557; 1970, c. 462, §§ 24.1-231, 24.1-234; 1972, c. 621; 1974, c. 428, § 24.1-233.1; 1978, c. 778; 1981, c. 425; 1988, cc. 624, 691; 1991, c. 3; 1993, c. 641; 2001, c. 799; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2003, c. 1015; 2006, c. 283; 2013, c. 501; 2014, cc. 453, 574, 575; 2017, c. 276; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 471, 522.

§ 24.2-711.1. Absentee ballots; confirmation of receipt; notice of reason for rejection.

A. The Secretary, in coordination with local election officials, shall implement a free-access system by which a voter may determine:

1. Whether the voter's application for an absentee ballot has been received and accepted; and

2. Whether the voter's absentee ballot has been received and the current status of the absentee ballot.

B. The electoral board of each county and city shall send a written explanation of the reason for rejection of an absentee ballot to the voter whose absentee ballot is rejected within 90 days of the date on which the ballot is rejected. The State Board of Elections shall promulgate instructions to implement the provisions of this section.

2002, c. 252; 2013, c. 537.

§ 24.2-712. Central absentee voter precincts; counting ballots.

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the governing body of each county or city shall establish one or more central absentee voter precincts in the courthouse or other public buildings for the purpose of receiving, counting, and recording absentee ballots cast in the county or city. A central absentee voter precinct shall be made by the governing body by ordinance; the ordinance shall state for which elections the precinct shall be used. The decision to abolish any absentee voter precinct shall be made by the governing body by ordinance. Immediate notification of either decision shall be sent to the Department of Elections and the electoral board.

B. Each central absentee voter precinct shall have at least three officers of election as provided for other precincts. The number of officers shall be determined by the electoral board and general registrar.

C. If any voter brings an unmarked ballot to the central absentee voter precinct on the day of the election, he shall be allowed to vote it. If any voter brings an unmarked ballot to the general registrar on or before the day of the election, he shall be allowed to vote it, and his ballot shall be delivered to the absentee voter precinct.

D. Absentee ballots shall be processed as required by § 24.2-709.1 by the officers of election at the central absentee voter precinct prior to the closing of the polls. In the case of machine-readable ballots, the ballot container shall be opened and the absentee ballots shall be inserted in the counting machines prior to the closing of the polls in accordance with procedures prescribed by the Department of Elections, including procedures to preserve ballot secrecy, but no ballot count totals by the machines shall be transmitted outside of the central absentee voter precinct until after the closing of the polls.

In the case of absentee ballots that are counted by hand, the officers of election shall begin tallying such ballots at any time after noon on the day of the election in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the Department of Elections, including procedures to preserve ballot secrecy. No counts of such tallies shall be determined or transmitted outside of the central absentee voter precinct until after the closing of the polls.

The use of cellular telephones or other communication devices shall be prohibited in the central absentee voter precinct during such processing and tallying and until the closing of the polls. Any person present in the central absentee voter precinct shall sign a statement under oath that he will not transmit any counts prior to the closing of the polls. Any person who transmits any counts in violation of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

E. As soon as the polls are closed in the county or city, the officers of election at the central absentee voter precinct shall proceed promptly to ascertain and record the total vote given by all absentee ballots and report the results in the manner provided for counting and reporting ballots generally in Article 4 (§ 24.2-643 et seq.) of Chapter 6.

F. The electoral board or general registrar may provide that the officers of election for a central absentee voter precinct may be assigned to work all or a portion of the time that the precinct is open on election day subject to the following conditions:

1. The chief officer and the assistant chief officer, appointed pursuant to § 24.2-115 to represent the two political parties, are on duty at all times; and

2. No officer, political party representative, or other candidate representative shall leave the precinct after any ballots have been counted until the polls are closed and the count for the precinct is completed and reported.

G. The general registrar may provide that the central absentee voter precinct will open after 6:00 a.m. on the day of the election provided that the office of the general registrar will be open for the receipt of absentee ballots until the central absentee voter precinct is open and that the officers of election for the central absentee voter precinct obtain the absentee ballots returned to the general registrar's office for the purpose of counting the absentee ballots at the central absentee voter precinct and provided further that the central absentee voter precinct is the same location as the office of the general registrar.

1974, c. 428, § 24.1-233.1; 1978, c. 778; 1991, c. 3; 1993, c. 641; 1994, cc. 287, 742; 1998, cc. 549, 572; 2003, c. 1015; 2006, c. 297; 2008, c. 423; 2013, c. 501; 2014, cc. 540, 552, 576; 2015, cc. 313, 644, 645; 2016, cc. 18, 492; 2017, c. 711; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 471, 522.

§ 24.2-713. Emergency authority of the Commissioner of Elections.

The provisions of this section shall apply in the case of an emergency that will not allow sufficient time for the distribution and handling of absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots, in accordance with the procedures of this title, for qualified voters who are unable to vote in person because of the emergency. The Commissioner of Elections shall have the authority to designate alternative methods and procedures to handle such applications and ballots. Nothing in this section shall authorize the counting of any absentee ballot returned after the polls have closed. For purposes of this section, "an emergency" shall mean (i) any emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 3.2 (§ 44-146.13 et seq.) of Title 44, (ii) any emergency declared by the President of the United States or the governor of another state pursuant to law and confirmed by the Governor by the executive order as an emergency for the purposes of this section, or (iii) any public emergency that interferes with the electoral process or the opportunity for qualified voters to exercise their right to vote as determined by the Commissioner of Elections.

1994, c. 240; 2002, cc. 785, 819; 2013, c. 542.