§ 24.2-687 Authorization for distribution of information on referendum elections
Overview of Statute
The governing body of any county, city, or town may provide for the preparation and printing of an explanation for each referendum question to be submitted to voters to be distributed at the polling places on the day of the election. The explanation may also be published in a newspaper of general circulation. Details provided in this section.
A. The governing body of any county, city or town may provide for the preparation and printing of an explanation for each referendum question to be submitted to the voters of the county, city or town to be distributed at the polling places on the day of the referendum election. The governing body may have the explanation published by paid advertisement in a newspaper with general circulation in the county, city or town one or more times preceding the referendum.
The explanation shall contain the ballot question and a statement of not more than 500 words on the proposed question. The explanation shall be presented in plain English, shall be limited to a neutral explanation, and shall not present arguments by either proponents or opponents of the proposal. The attorney for the county, city or town or, if there is no county, city or town attorney, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall prepare the explanation. “Plain English” means written in nontechnical, readily understandable language using words of common everyday usage and avoiding legal terms and phrases or other terms and words of art whose usage or special meaning primarily is limited to a particular field or profession.
If the referendum question involves the issuance of bonds by a locality, the locality shall provide for such printed explanation. The explanation shall (i) state the estimated maximum amount of the bonds proposed to be issued, and (ii) state the proposed use of the bond proceeds, and if there is more than one use, state the proposed uses for which more than 10 percent of the total bond proceeds is expected to be used.
B. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit a county, city or town from disseminating other neutral materials or advertisements concerning issues of public concern that are the subject of a referendum; however, the materials or advertisements shall not advocate the passage or defeat of the referendum question.
C. This section shall not be applicable to statewide referenda.
D. Any failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall not affect the validity of the referendum.
Sections 30-19.9 and 30-19.10 address constitutional amendments and other statewide referenda.
1. Definition for Referendum
Any election held pursuant to law to submit a question to the voters for approval or rejection.
2. Definition for 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.
3. Definition for Advertisement
Any message appearing in the print media, on television, or on radio that constitutes a contribution or expenditure under Chapter 9.3 (§ 24.2-945 et seq.). “Advertisement” shall not include novelty items authorized by a candidate including, but not limited to, pens, pencils, magnets, and buttons to be attached to wearing apparel.
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.
5. Definition for Election
A general, primary, or special election.