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Virginia > Title 24.2 Elections > Voter Registration

§ 24.2-404 Duties of Department of Elections

Overview of Statute

This section tasks the Department of Elections with operating and maintaining the Virginia voter registration system. The Department’s duties include providing list maintenance and pollbook data to general registrars, and sharing list maintenance data with other states.

Statute

A. The Department of Elections shall provide for the continuing operation and maintenance of a central recordkeeping system, the Virginia voter registration system, for all voters registered in the Commonwealth.

In order to operate and maintain the system, the Department shall:

1. Maintain a complete, separate, and accurate record of all registered voters in the Commonwealth.

2. Require the general registrars to enter the names of all registered voters into the system and to change or correct registration records as necessary.

3. Provide to each general registrar, voter confirmation documents for newly registered voters and for notice to registered voters on the system of changes and corrections in their registration records and polling places and voter photo identification cards containing the voter’s photograph and signature for free for those voters who do not have one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643. The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations authorizing each general registrar to obtain a photograph and signature of a voter who does not have one of the forms of identification specified in subsection B of § 24.2-643 for the purpose of providing such voter a voter photo identification card containing the voter’s photograph and signature. The Department shall provide each general registrar with the equipment necessary to obtain a voter’s signature and photograph and no general registrar shall be required to purchase such equipment at his own expense. Photographs and signatures obtained by a general registrar shall be submitted to the Department. The Department may contract with an outside vendor for the production and distribution of voter photo identification cards.

4. Require the general registrars to delete from the record of registered voters the name of any voter who (i) is deceased, (ii) is no longer qualified to vote in the county or city where he is registered due to removal of his residence, (iii) has been convicted of a felony, (iv) has been adjudicated incapacitated, (v) is known not to be a United States citizen by reason of reports from the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to § 24.2-410.1 or from the Department of Elections based on information received from the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE Program) pursuant to subsection E, or (vi) is otherwise no longer qualified to vote as may be provided by law. Such action shall be taken no later than 30 days after notification from the Department. The Department shall promptly provide the information referred to in this subdivision, upon receiving it, to general registrars.

5. Retain on the system for four years a separate record for registered voters whose names have been deleted, with the reason for deletion.

6. Retain on the system permanently a separate record for information received regarding deaths, felony convictions, and adjudications of incapacity pursuant to §§ 24.2-408 through 24.2-410.

7. Provide to each general registrar, at least 16 days prior to a general or primary election and three days prior to a special election, an alphabetical list of all registered voters in each precinct or portion of a precinct in which the election is being held in the county, city, or town. These precinct lists shall be used as the official lists of qualified voters and shall constitute the pollbooks. The Department shall provide instructions for the division of the pollbooks and precinct lists into sections to accommodate the efficient processing of voter lines at the polls. Prior to any general, primary, or special election, the Department shall provide any general registrar, upon his request, with a separate electronic list of all registered voters in the registrar’s county or city. If electronic pollbooks are used in the locality or electronic voter registration inquiry devices are used in precincts in the locality, the Department shall provide a regional or statewide list of registered voters to the general registrar of the locality. The Department shall determine whether regional or statewide data is provided. Neither the pollbook nor the regional or statewide list of registered voters shall include the day and month of birth of the voter, but shall include the voter’s year of birth.

8. Acquire by purchase, lease, or contract equipment necessary to execute the duties of the Department.

9. Use any source of information that may assist in carrying out the purposes of this section. All agencies of the Commonwealth shall cooperate with the Department in procuring and exchanging identification information for the purpose of maintaining the voter registration system. The Department may share any information that it receives from another agency of the Commonwealth with any Chief Election Officer of another state for the maintenance of the voter registration system.

10. Cooperate with other states and jurisdictions to develop systems to compare voters, voter history, and voter registration lists to ensure the accuracy of the voter registration rolls, to identify voters whose addresses have changed, to prevent duplication of registration in more than one state or jurisdiction, and to determine eligibility of individuals to vote in Virginia.

11. Reprint and impose a reasonable charge for the sale of any part of Title 24.2, lists of precincts and polling places, statements of election results by precinct, and any other items required of the Department by law. Receipts from such sales shall be credited to the Board for reimbursement of printing expenses.

B. The Department shall be authorized to provide for the production, distribution, and receipt of information and lists through the Virginia voter registration system by any appropriate means including, but not limited to, paper and electronic means. The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) shall not apply to records about individuals maintained in this system.

C. The State Board shall institute procedures to ensure that each requirement of this section is fulfilled. As part of its procedures, the State Board shall provide that the general registrar shall mail notice of any cancellation pursuant to clause (v) of subdivision A 4 to the person whose registration is cancelled.

D. The State Board shall promulgate rules and regulations to ensure the uniform application of the law for determining a person’s residence.

E. The Department shall apply to participate in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE Program) operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the purposes of verifying that voters listed in the Virginia voter registration system are United States citizens. Upon approval of the application, the Department shall enter into any required memorandum of agreement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The State Board shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the use of the immigration status and citizenship status information received from the SAVE Program.

F. The Department shall report annually by August 1 for the preceding 12 months ending June 30 to the Committees on Privileges and Elections on each of its activities undertaken to maintain the Virginia voter registration system and the results of those activities. The Department’s report shall encompass activities undertaken pursuant to subdivisions A 9 and 10 and subsection E and pursuant to §§ 24.2-404.3, 24.2-404.4, 24.2-408, 24.2-409, 24.2-409.1, 24.2-410, 24.2-410.1, 24.2-427, and 24.2-428.

1970, c. 462, § 24.1-23; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 119; 1972, c. 620; 1973, c. 30; 1974, cc. 369, 428; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1978, c. 778; 1983, c. 348; 1993, c. 641; 1997, c. 801; 2000, cc. 510, 554; 2003, c. 1015; 2004, c. 428; 2005, c. 378; 2006, cc. 243, 926, 940; 2008, c. 379; 2009, cc. 865, 870, 874; 2011, c. 528; 2012, c. 686; 2013, cc. 425, 686, 725; 2014, c. 452; 2015, c. 740.

Definition [Department]

The state agency headed by the Commissioner of Elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [State Board]

The State Board of Elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Polling place]

The structure that contains the one place provided for each precinct at which the qualified voters who are residents of the precinct may vote.

See § 24.2-101.

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 [Primary election]

An election held for the purpose of selecting a candidate to be the nominee of a political party for election to office.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Registered voter]

Any person who is maintained on the Virginia voter registration system. All registered voters shall be maintained on the Virginia voter registration system with active status unless assigned to inactive status by a general registrar in accordance with Chapter 4 (§ 24.2-400 et seq.). For purposes of applying the precinct size requirements of § 24.2-307, calculating election machine requirements pursuant to Article 3 (§ 24.2-625 et seq.) of Chapter 6, mailing notices of local election district, precinct or polling place changes as required by subdivision 13 of § 24.2-114 and § 24.2-306, and determining the number of signatures required for candidate and voter petitions, “registered voter” shall include only persons maintained on the Virginia voter registration system with active status. For purposes of determining if a signature on a petition shall be included in the count toward meeting the signature requirements of any petition, “registered voter” shall include only persons maintained on the Virginia voter registration system (i) with active status and (ii) on inactive status who are qualified to vote for the office for which the petition was circulated.

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 [General Registrar]

The person appointed by the electoral board of a county or city pursuant to § 24.2-110 to be responsible for all aspects of voter registration, in addition to other duties prescribed by this title. When performing duties related to the administration of elections, the general registrar is acting in his capacity as the director of elections for the locality in which he serves.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Registration records]

All official records concerning the registration of qualified voters and shall include all records, lists, applications, and files, whether maintained in books, on cards, on automated data bases, or by any other legally permitted record-keeping method.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Department of Elections]

The state agency headed by the Commissioner of Elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Voter registration system]

The automated central record-keeping system for all voters registered within the Commonwealth that is maintained as provided in Article 2 (§ 24.2-404 et seq.) of Chapter 4.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Virginia voter registration system]

The automated central record-keeping system for all voters registered within the Commonwealth that is maintained as provided in Article 2 (§ 24.2-404 et seq.) of Chapter 4.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Board]

The State Board of Elections.

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 [Primary]

An election held for the purpose of selecting a candidate to be the nominee of a political party for election to office.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Election]

A general, primary, or special election.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Precinct]

The territory designated by the governing body of a county, city, or town to be served by one polling place.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Residence]

For all purposes of qualification to register and vote, means and requires both domicile and a place of abode. To establish domicile, a person must live in a particular locality with the intention to remain. A place of abode is the physical place where a person dwells.

See § 24.2-101.

Cases

Virginia Cases

Out-of-State Cases

Case State: virginia

Case Name: Mahan v. National Conservative Political Action Committee

Citation: 315 S.E.2d 829

Year: 1984

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/1bbbc0f3dc44f17e7a43b0c3947d2917

Case Summary: Holding that statute restricting entities which could obtain copies of statewide list of registered voters was unconstitutional as applied to political action committee, because it was not the least burdensome way to achieve the legislative interest in protecting privacy of voters.

Case State: virginia

Case Name: Howell v. McAuliffe

Citation: 788 S.E.2d 706

Year: 2016

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/6717da29a3ff45355aa52f5187c41953

Case Summary: Executive Order seeking to restore the political rights of any persons disqualified by the voter-disqualification provision (§ 24.2–404(A)(4)) was unconstitutional.

Federal Cases

Case Name: Greidinger v. Davis

Citation: 988 F.2d 1344

Federal Circuit Court: 4th Circuit Court

Year: 1993

Case URL: https://www.ravellaw.com/opinions/172137866d5052e5de17fec3ada830cc

Case Summary: Striking down state’s practice of requiring social security numbers on voter registration applications and then making those applications available for public inspection.

State Constitutional Provisions

Regulations & Guidance