§ 24.2-684.1 Requirements for voter petitions to call for referendum elections
Overview of Statute
This section lists the requirements that voter petitions for referendum elections must meet. Unlike § 24.2-506 addressing candidate petitions, this statute requires signing voters to be qualified both at the time of the signing and when the signatures are verified after being filed with the court or other authority.
In addition to other applicable requirements of law, the following requirements shall apply whenever a referendum election is initiated by voter petitions. The requirements of this section shall be construed to override any requirement of general or special law in conflict with this section, except requirements set out in charter provisions to govern the exercise of recall, initiative, or referendum powers in a county, city, or town.
The requirements of this section shall apply to petitions calling for any referendum which is ordered to be held on or after January 1, 1994.
1. Prior to circulating any petition for signature, an individual shall file a copy of the petition with the clerk of the circuit court for the county or city in which the referendum will be held. The individual shall be a qualified voter of the county or city and shall file, with the petition copy, a statement giving his name; residence address and, if different, his mailing address; and the name of the organization, if any, which he represents in circulating the petition. The copy of the petition shall be filed on or after the effective date of the law which authorizes the referendum for which the petition will be circulated. The clerk shall certify, within 10 days of such filing, that he has received and accepted the petition copy and statement.
2. If the referendum will be held only in a town, the copy and statement shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court for the county in which the town, or larger portion of the town, is located, and the individual shall be a qualified voter of the town. If the referendum will be held only in part of a county, city, or town, the copy and statement shall be filed with the clerk of the appropriate circuit court, and the individual shall be a qualified voter of the part of the county, city, or town in which the referendum will be held. If the referendum will be held in more than one county, city, or town, the copy and statement shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court of any one of the localities in which the referendum will be held, and the individual shall be a qualified voter of that locality.
3. Each qualified voter signing a petition shall date his signature.
4. Each such voter may provide on the petition the last four digits of his social security number, if any; however, noncompliance with this requirement shall not be cause to invalidate the voter’s signature on the petition.
5. Each signature on the petition shall be witnessed by a person who is qualified to vote, or qualified to register to vote, in the referendum for which he is circulating the petition and whose affidavit to that effect, including his name, residence address and, if different, his mailing address, and the name of the organization, if any, that he represents in circulating the petition, appears on each page, front and back, of the petition.
6. The petition shall be circulated, completed, and filed with the appropriate court or authority within nine months of the date of the certification by the clerk of the circuit court pursuant to subdivision 1.
7. Each qualified voter signing the petition shall have been validly registered in the jurisdiction for which the petition is circulated at the time of signing the petition and at the time of validating the petition signatures.
8. The number of voters registered on January 1 of the year of the certification by the clerk of the circuit court pursuant to subdivision 1 shall be the basis for determining the number of signatures required on the petition in all cases in which the law authorizing the referendum provides that the number of signatures required for the petition is a percentage of the number of registered voters.
9. If the court or authority finds that the filed petitions are valid and sufficient under law, it shall proceed, as provided by law, to order or call for the referendum election. If the court or authority finds that the filed petitions are invalid for any cause, the petitions and the signatures on them shall be invalid for all purposes. The invalidity of one or more signatures on a petition page shall not be cause to invalidate the entire petition page. If the circulators of the petitions fail to file within the nine-month period provided in subdivision 6, the petitions and the signatures on them shall be invalid for all purposes.
Four city charters have initiative provisions (Hampton, Lynchburg, Norfolk and Portsmouth) reported by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
1. Definition for Referendum
Any election held pursuant to law to submit a question to the voters for approval or rejection.
See § 24.2-101.
2. Definition for 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.
3. Definition for 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.
4. Definition for 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.
5. Definition for 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.
6. Definition for Election
A general, primary, or special election.
See § 24.2-101.
7. Definition for 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.
Case Name: Lux v. Judd
Citation: 842 F. Supp. 2d 895
Federal District Court: Eastern District of Virginia
Case Summary: Holding that district residency requirement posed an undue restriction on independent candidate for House of Representatives First Amendment rights and that strict scrutiny applied to his claim.
Regulations & Guidance
Referendum Provisions in General https://perma.cc/4CL3-WHZN