Code Section
Virginia > Title 24.2 Elections > The Election

§ 24.2-684 How referendum elections called and held, and the results ascertained and certified

Overview of Statute

This section describes how referendum elections are to be called and held, as well as how the results are to be ascertained and certified.


Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or charter to the contrary, the provisions of this section shall govern all referenda.

No referendum shall be placed on the ballot unless specifically authorized by statute or by charter.

Whenever any question is to be submitted to the voters of any county, city, town, or other local subdivision, the referendum shall in every case be held pursuant to a court order as provided in this section. The court order calling a referendum shall state the question to appear on the ballot in plain English as that term is defined in §24.2-687. The order shall be entered and the election held within a reasonable period of time subsequent to the receipt of the request for the referendum if the request is found to be in proper order. The court order shall set the date for the referendum in conformity with the requirements of § 24.2-682.

A copy of the court order calling a referendum shall be sent immediately to the State Board by the clerk of the court in which the order was issued.

The ballot shall be prepared by the appropriate general registrar and distributed to the appropriate precincts. On the day fixed for the referendum, the regular election officers shall open the polls and take the sense of the qualified voters of the county, city, town, or other local subdivision, as the case may be, on the question so submitted. The ballots for use at any such election shall be printed to state the question as follows:

“(Here state briefly the question submitted)

[ ] Yes

[ ] No”

The ballots shall be printed, marked, and counted and returns made and canvassed as in other elections. The results shall be certified by the secretary of the appropriate electoral board to the State Board, to the court ordering the election, and to such other authority as may be proper to accomplish the purpose of the election.

Code 1950, § 24-141; 1966, c. 115; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-165; 1974, c. 428; 1975, c. 515; 1976, c. 616; 1978, cc. 258, 304; 1979, c. 37; 1980, c. 639; 1981, c. 367; 1982, cc. 498, 650; 1983, c. 461; 1991, c. 592; 1993, c. 641; 1994, c. 142; 1996, c. 297; 2016, cc. 18, 492.

Definition [Referendum]

Any election held pursuant to law to submit a question to the voters for approval or rejection.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [State Board]

The State Board of Elections.

See § 24.2-101.

Definition [Authorized by]

Express approval or express consent by the candidate, the candidate’s campaign committee, or an agent of the candidate or his campaign committee after coordination.

See § 24.2-955.1.

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 [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 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 [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 [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.


virginia Cases

Case Name: Comm. of the Petitioners for Referendum v. City of Norfolk

Citation: 645 S.E.2d 464

Year: 2007

Case URL:

Case Summary: Holding that district court abused discretion when it dismissed the petition of a committee petitioning for a referendum that was not required to circulate a separate petition for each ordinance it was challenging.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases

Regulations & Guidance

Additional Resources

Useful Links