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Virginia > Title 24.2 Elections > The Election

§ 24.2-659 Locking voting and counting machines after election and delivering keys to clerk; printed returns as evidence

Overview of Statute

After officers of election lock and seal each voting machine, the keys shall be delivered to the clerk of the circuit court. The officers shall also deliver to the clerk data storage devices and certificates stating the vote count on each machine.

Statute

(Effective until July 1, 2020)

A. If the voting or counting machine is secured by the use of equipment keys, after the officers of election lock and seal each machine, the equipment keys shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of the election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The custodians of the voting equipment shall enclose and seal in an envelope, properly endorsed, all other keys to all voting equipment in their jurisdictions and deliver the envelope to the clerk of the circuit court by noon on the day following the election.B. If the voting or counting machines are secured by the use of equipment keys or electronic activation devices that are not specific to a particular machine, after the officers of election lock and seal each machine, the equipment keys and electronic activation devices shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held.C. If the voting or counting machine is secured by removal of the data storage device used in that election, the officers shall remove the data storage device and proceed to lock and seal each machine. The data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The equipment keys used at the polls shall be sealed in a different envelope and delivered to the clerk who shall release them to the general registrar upon request or at the expiration of the time specified by subsection F.

D. If the voting or counting machine provides for the creation of a separate master electronic back-up on a data storage device that combines the data for all of the voting or counting machines in a given precinct, that data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the name of the precinct. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The data storage device for the individual machines may remain sealed in its individual machine until the expiration of the time specified by subsection F. The equipment keys and the electronic activation devices used at the polls shall be sealed together in a separate envelope and delivered to the clerk who shall release them to the general registrar upon request or at the expiration of the time specified by subsection F.

E. If the voting or counting machine is secured by removal of the data storage device used in that election, and the only record of votes cast for any office or on any question is saved on that data storage device and not on the machine itself, the officers shall remove the data storage device and proceed to lock and seal each machine. Each such machine shall remain locked and sealed until it is returned to the site at which voting and counting machines are stored in the locality. The data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The equipment keys used at the polls shall be sealed in a different envelope and delivered to the general registrar no later than noon on the day after the election.

F. The voting and counting machines described in subsections A, B, C, and D shall remain locked and sealed until the deadline to request a recount under Chapter 8 (§ 24.2-800 et seq.) has passed and, if any contest or recount is pending thereafter, until it has been concluded. Such machines and any envelope containing data storage devices shall be opened and all data examined only (i) on the order of a court of competent jurisdiction or (ii) on the request of an authorized representative of the State Board, or the electoral board or general registrar at the direction of the State Board, in order to ensure the accuracy of the returns. In the event that machines and data storage devices are examined under clause (ii), each political party and each independent candidate on the ballot, or each primary candidate, shall be entitled to have a representative present during such examination. The representatives and observers lawfully present shall be prohibited from interfering with the officers of election in any way. The State Board, local electoral board, or general registrar shall provide such parties and candidates reasonable advance notice of the examination.

When recounts occur in precincts using direct recording electronic machines with printed return sheets, the printed return sheets delivered to the clerk may be used as the official evidence of the results.

When the required time has expired, the clerk of the circuit court shall return all voting equipment keys and data storage devices to the general registrar.

G. The local electoral board or general registrar may direct the officers of election and custodians that any sealed equipment keys or data storage devices that are otherwise required by the provisions of this section to be delivered to the clerk of the circuit court shall instead be delivered to the principal office of the general registrar no later than noon on the day following the election. The general registrar shall secure and retain the sealed equipment keys and any other electronic locking or activation devices in his office and shall convey them to the clerk of the court by noon on the day following the ascertainment of the results of the election by the electoral board.

H. The provisions of this section requiring the locking and sealing of voting and counting machines shall not apply to any ballot marking device and its data storage device provided pursuant to § 24.2-626.1, where the number of persons voting in the election or the number of votes cast for any office or on any question are not recorded by the ballot marking device.

Code 1950, § 24-314; 1962, c. 230; 1966, c. 453; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-224; 1974, c. 428; 1978, c. 778; 1985, c. 458; 1993, c. 641; 1995, c. 197; 2003, c. 1015; 2004, cc. 835, 993, 1010; 2006, c. 689; 2008, cc. 107, 385; 2014, cc. 540576; 2016, cc. 18, 218, 489, 492.

§ 24.2-659. (Effective July 1, 2020) Locking voting systems after election and delivering keys to clerk; printed returns as evidence.

A. If the voting system is secured by the use of equipment keys, after the officers of election lock and seal each machine, the equipment keys shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of the election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The custodians of the voting equipment shall enclose and seal in an envelope, properly endorsed, all other keys to all voting equipment in their jurisdictions and deliver the envelope to the clerk of the circuit court by noon on the day following the election.B. If the voting systems are secured by the use of equipment keys or electronic activation devices that are not specific to a particular machine, after the officers of election lock and seal each machine, the equipment keys and electronic activation devices shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held.C. If the voting system is secured by removal of the data storage device used in that election, the officers shall remove the data storage device and proceed to lock and seal each machine. The data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The equipment keys used at the polls shall be sealed in a different envelope and delivered to the clerk who shall release them to the general registrar upon request or at the expiration of the time specified by subsection F.

D. If the voting system provides for the creation of a separate master electronic back-up on a data storage device that combines the data for all of the voting systems in a given precinct, that data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the name of the precinct. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The data storage device for the individual machines may remain sealed in its individual machine until the expiration of the time specified by subsection F. The equipment keys and the electronic activation devices used at the polls shall be sealed together in a separate envelope and delivered to the clerk who shall release them to the general registrar upon request or at the expiration of the time specified by subsection F.

E. If the voting system is secured by removal of the data storage device used in that election, and the only record of votes cast for any office or on any question is saved on that data storage device and not on the machine itself, the officers shall remove the data storage device and proceed to lock and seal each machine. Each such machine shall remain locked and sealed until it is returned to the site at which voting systems are stored in the locality. The data storage device shall be enclosed in an envelope that shall be sealed and have endorsed thereon a certificate of an officer of election stating the election precinct, the number of each machine, the number on the seal, and the number of the protective counter, if one, on the machine. The sealed envelope shall be delivered by one of the officers of election to the clerk of the circuit court where the election was held. The equipment keys used at the polls shall be sealed in a different envelope and delivered to the general registrar no later than noon on the day after the election.

F. The voting systems described in subsections A, B, C, and D shall remain locked and sealed until the deadline to request a recount under Chapter 8 (§ 24.2-800 et seq.) has passed and, if any contest or recount is pending thereafter, until it has been concluded. Such machines and any envelope containing data storage devices shall be opened and all data examined only (i) on the order of a court of competent jurisdiction or (ii) on the request of an authorized representative of the State Board, or the electoral board or general registrar at the direction of the State Board, in order to ensure the accuracy of the returns. In the event that machines and data storage devices are examined under clause (ii) each political party and each independent candidate on the ballot, or each primary candidate, shall be entitled to have a representative present during such examination. The representatives and observers lawfully present shall be prohibited from interfering with the officers of election in any way. The State Board, local electoral board, or general registrar shall provide such parties and candidates reasonable advance notice of the examination.

When the required time has expired, the clerk of the circuit court shall return all voting equipment keys and data storage devices to the general registrar.

G. The local electoral board or general registrar may direct the officers of election and custodians that any sealed equipment keys or data storage devices that are otherwise required by the provisions of this section to be delivered to the clerk of the circuit court shall instead be delivered to the principal office of the general registrar no later than noon on the day following the election. The general registrar shall secure and retain the sealed equipment keys and any other electronic locking or activation devices in his office and shall convey them to the clerk of the court by noon on the day following the ascertainment of the results of the election by the electoral board.

H. The provisions of this section requiring the locking and sealing of voting systems shall not apply to any ballot marking device and its data storage device provided pursuant to § 24.2-626.1, where the number of persons voting in the election or the number of votes cast for any office or on any question are not recorded by the ballot marking device.

Code 1950, § 24-314; 1962, c. 230; 1966, c. 453; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-224; 1974, c. 428; 1978, c. 778; 1985, c. 458; 1993, c. 641; 1995, c. 197; 2003, c. 1015; 2004, cc. 835, 993, 1010; 2006, c. 689; 2008, cc. 107, 385; 2014, cc. 540576; 2016, cc. 18, 218, 464, 489, 492.

Definition [State Board]

The State Board of Elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Voting system]

The electronic voting and counting machines used at elections. This term includes direct recording electronic machines (DRE) and ballot scanner machines.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Electoral board]

A board appointed pursuant to § 24.2-106 to administer elections for a county or city. The electoral board of the county in which a town or the greater part of a town is located shall administer the town’s elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Political party]

An organization of citizens of the Commonwealth which, at either of the two preceding statewide general elections, received at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for any statewide office filled in that election. The organization shall have a state central committee and an office of elected state chairman which have been continually in existence for the six months preceding the filing of a nominee for any office.

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 [Officer of election]

A person appointed by an electoral board pursuant to § 24.2-115 to serve at a polling place for any election.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Local electoral board]

A board appointed pursuant to § 24.2-106 to administer elections for a county or city. The electoral board of the county in which a town or the greater part of a town is located shall administer the town’s elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Direct recording electronic machine]

The electronic voting machine on which a voter touches areas of a computer screen, or uses other control features, to mark a ballot and his vote is recorded electronically.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Party]

An organization of citizens of the Commonwealth which, at either of the two preceding statewide general elections, received at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for any statewide office filled in that election. The organization shall have a state central committee and an office of elected state chairman which have been continually in existence for the six months preceding the filing of a nominee for any office.

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 [Candidate]

A person who seeks or campaigns for an office of the Commonwealth or one of its governmental units in a general, primary, or special election and who is qualified to have his name placed on the ballot for the office. “Candidate” shall include a person who seeks the nomination of a political party or who, by reason of receiving the nomination of a political party for election to an office, is referred to as its nominee. For the purposes of Chapters 8 (§ 24.2-800 et seq.), 9.3 (§ 24.2-945 et seq.), and 9.5 (§ 24.2-955 et seq.), “candidate” shall include any write-in candidate. However, no write-in candidate who has received less than 15 percent of the votes cast for the office shall be eligible to initiate an election contest pursuant to Article 2 (§ 24.2-803 et seq.) of Chapter 8. For the purposes of Chapters 9.3 (§ 24.2-945 et seq.) and 9.5 (§ 24.2-955 et seq.), “candidate” shall include any person who raises or spends funds in order to seek or campaign for an office of the Commonwealth, excluding federal offices, or one of its governmental units in a party nomination process or general, primary, or special election; and such person shall be considered a candidate until a final report is filed pursuant to Article 3 (§ 24.2-947 et seq.) of Chapter 9.3.

See § 24.2-101.