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Virginia > Title 24.2 Elections > Federal, Commonwealth, And Local Officers

§ 24.2-228.1 Election to fill vacancy in constitutional office

Overview of Statute

This section describes the election process to fill vacancies in constitutional offices and provides for the performance of the duties of any such vacant office until it is filled by election.

Statute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definition [Occurrence]

One broadcast of a radio or television political campaign advertisement.

See § 24.2-955.1.

Definition [United States]

Used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

See § 24.2-452.

Definition [Qualified voter]

A person who is entitled to vote pursuant to the Constitution of Virginia and who is (i) 18 years of age on or before the day of the election or qualified pursuant to § 24.2-403 or subsection D of § 24.2-544, (ii) a resident of the Commonwealth and of the precinct in which he offers to vote, and (iii) a registered voter. No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be a qualified voter unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority. No person adjudicated incapacitated shall be a qualified voter unless his capacity has been reestablished as provided by law. Whether a signature should be counted towards satisfying the signature requirement of any petition shall be determined based on the signer of the petition’s qualification to vote. For purposes of determining if a signature on a petition shall be included in the count toward meeting the signature requirements of any petition, “qualified voter” shall include only persons maintained on the Virginia voter registration system (a) with active status and (b) with inactive status who are qualified to vote for the office for which the petition was circulated.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [General election]

An election held in the Commonwealth on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November or on the first Tuesday in May for the purpose of filling offices regularly scheduled by law to be filled at those times.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Special election]

Any election that is held pursuant to law to fill a vacancy in office or to hold a referendum.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Constitutional office]

A county or city office or officer referred to in Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia: clerk of the circuit court, attorney for the Commonwealth, sheriff, commissioner of the revenue, and treasurer.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Constitutional officer]

A county or city office or officer referred to in Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia: clerk of the circuit court, attorney for the Commonwealth, sheriff, commissioner of the revenue, and treasurer.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [State]

A state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

See § 24.2-452.

Definition [Person]

Any individual or corporation, partnership, business, labor organization, membership organization, association, cooperative, or other like entity.

For the purpose of applying the filing and reporting requirements of this chapter, the term “person” shall not include an organization holding tax-exempt status under § 501(c) (3), 501(c) (4), or 501(c) (6) of the United States Internal Revenue Code which, in providing information to voters, does not advocate or endorse the election or defeat of a particular candidate, group of candidates, or the candidates of a particular political party.

See § 24.2-945.1.

Definition [Election]

A general, primary, or special election.

See § 24.2-101.

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