Article II, Virginia Constitution

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Virginia Constitution
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Articles
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Article II of the Virginia Constitution is entitled Franchise and Officers and consists of nine sections.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Qualifications of Voters

In elections by the people, the qualifications of voters shall be as follows: Each voter shall be a citizen of the United States, shall be eighteen years of age, shall fulfill the residence requirements set forth in this section, and shall be registered to vote pursuant to this article. No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority. As prescribed by law, no person adjudicated to be mentally incompetent shall be qualified to vote until his competency has been reestablished.

The residence requirements shall be that each voter shall be a resident of the Commonwealth and of the precinct where he votes. Residence, for all purposes of qualification to vote, requires both domicile and a place of abode. The General Assembly may provide for persons who are employed overseas, and their spouses and dependents residing with them, and who are qualified to vote except for relinquishing their place of abode in the Commonwealth while overseas, to vote in the Commonwealth subject to conditions and time limits defined by law. The General Assembly may provide for persons who are qualified to vote except for having moved their residence from one precinct to another within the Commonwealth to continue to vote in a former precinct subject to conditions and time limits defined by law. The General Assembly may also provide, in elections for President and Vice-President of the United States, alternatives to registration for new residents of the Commonwealth.

Any person who will be qualified with respect to age to vote at the next general election shall be permitted to register in advance and also to vote in any intervening primary or special election.

The amendment ratified November 7, 1972 and effective January 1, 1973—In paragraph one, the voting age, formerly "twenty-one", was reduced to "eighteen".

The amendment ratified November 2, 1976 and effective January 1, 1977—In paragraph two, substituted "be" for "have been" and removed the durational residency requirement of "six months" in the Commonwealth and "thirty days" in the precinct in the first sentence. The second sentence removed the language "fewer than thirty days prior to an election" and, after the word "may", added the language "in the following November general election and (in any) intervening."In the last sentence of the paragraph, the less-than-six-months residency requirement for presidential elections was removed to conform with the first sentence.

The amendment ratified November 5, 1996 and effective January 1, 1997—In paragraph two, deleted the second sentence: "A person who is qualified to vote except for having moved his residence from one precinct to another may in the following November general election and in any intervening election vote in the precinct from which he has moved.", added a next-to-the-last sentence: "The General Assembly may provide for persons who are qualified to vote . . .", and added "also" preceding "provide" in the last sentence.

The amendment ratified November 3, 1998 and effective January 1, 1999—In paragraph two, added the third sentence: "The General Assembly may provide for persons who are employed . . ."

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

Registration of Voters

The General Assembly shall provide by law for the registration of all persons otherwise qualified to vote who have met the residence requirements contained in this article, and shall ensure that the opportunity to register is made available. Registrations accomplished prior to the effective date of this section shall be effective hereunder. The registration records shall not be closed to new or transferred registrations more than thirty days before the election in which they are to be used.

Applications to register shall require the applicant to provide the following information on a standard form: full name; date of birth; residence address; social security number, if any; whether the applicant is presently a United States citizen; and such additional information as may be required by law. All applications to register shall be completed by or at the direction of the applicant and signed by the applicant, unless physically disabled. No fee shall be charged to the applicant incident to an application to register.

Nothing in this article shall preclude the General Assembly from requiring as a prerequisite to registration to vote the ability of the applicant to read and complete in his own handwriting the application to register.

The amendment ratified November 2, 1976 and effective January 1, 1977—In paragraph two, substituted "date of residence in the precinct" for "length of residence in the Commonwealth and in the precinct" and removed "time" of any previous registrations to vote.

The amendment ratified November 2, 1982 and effective January 1, 1983—In paragraph two, after "maiden", added "and any other prior legal" and deleted "of a woman, if married", and after "birth;" deleted "marital status; occupation;".

The amendment ratified November 8, 1994 and effective January 1, 1995—In paragraph two, after "to provide", deleted "under oath", after "has been restored.", deleted "Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution,", and after "shall be completed", deleted "in person before the registrar and".

The amendment ratified November 5, 1996 and effective January 1, 1997—In paragraph two, after "full name", deleted ", including the maiden and any other prior legal name; age"; after "date", deleted "and place"; added "residence address;" after "of birth;"; and substituted "and such additional information as may be required by law" for "address and place of abode and date of residence in the precinct; place of any previous registrations to vote; and whether the applicant has ever been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or convicted of a felony, and if so, under what circumstances the applicant’s right to vote has been restored".

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

Method of Voting

In elections by the people, the following safeguards shall be maintained: Voting shall be by ballot or by machines for receiving, recording, and counting votes cast. No ballot or list of candidates upon any voting machine shall bear any distinguishing mark or symbol, other than words identifying political party affiliation; and their form, including the offices to be filled and the listing of candidates or nominees, shall be as uniform as is practicable throughout the Commonwealth or smaller governmental unit in which the election is held.

In elections other than primary elections, provision shall be made whereby votes may be cast for persons other than the listed candidates or nominees. Secrecy in casting votes shall be maintained, except as provision may be made for assistance to handicapped voters, but the ballot box or voting machine shall be kept in public view and shall not be opened, nor the ballots canvassed nor the votes counted, in secret. Votes may be cast in person or by absentee ballot as provided by law.

The amendment ratified November 8, 1994 and effective January 1, 1995—In paragraph two, after "Votes may be cast", deleted "only in person, except as otherwise provided in this article" and added "in person or by absentee ballot as provided by law".

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Powers and Duties of General Assembly

The General Assembly shall establish a uniform system for permanent registration of voters pursuant to this Constitution, including provisions for appeal by any person denied registration, correction of illegal or fraudulent registrations, penalties for illegal, fraudulent, or false registrations, proper transfer of all registered voters, and cancellation of registrations in other jurisdictions of persons who apply to register to vote in the Commonwealth. The General Assembly shall provide for maintenance of accurate and current registration records and may provide for the cancellation of registrations for such purpose.

The General Assembly shall provide for the nomination of candidates, shall regulate the time, place, manner, conduct, and administration of primary, general, and special elections, and shall have power to make any other law regulating elections not inconsistent with this Constitution.

The amendment ratified November 8, 1994 and effective January 1, 1995—In paragraph one, after "fraudulent registrations,", added "penalties for illegal, fraudulent, or false registrations," and replaced "shall provide for cancellation" with "may provide for the cancellation."Deleted provision for canceling a voter’s registration for not having voted for four years, allowing the General Assembly to revise laws for canceling a person’s registration for not voting. Deleted a paragraph relating to registration and voting by absentee application and ballot for those in the armed forces or temporarily employed out of the country, and for other qualified voters. [The amendment to this section ratified November 2, 1976 and effective January 1, 1977 and the amendment to this section ratified November 4, 1986 and effective July 1, 1987 were superseded by the 1994 amendment.]

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Qualifications to Hold Elective Office

The only qualification to hold any office of the Commonwealth or of its governmental units, elective by the people, shall be that a person must have been a resident of the Commonwealth for one year next preceding his election and be qualified to vote for that office, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, and except that:

(a) the General Assembly may impose more restrictive geographical residence requirements for election of its members, and may permit other governing bodies in the Commonwealth to impose more restrictive geographical residence requirements for election to such governing bodies, but no such requirements shall impair equal representation of the persons entitled to vote; (b) the General Assembly may provide that residence in a local governmental unit is not required for election to designated elective offices in local governments, other than membership in the local governing body; and (c) nothing in this Constitution shall limit the power of the General Assembly to prevent conflict of interests, dual officeholding, or other incompatible activities by elective or appointive officials of the Commonwealth or of any political subdivision.

The amendment ratified November 2, 1976 and effective January 1, 1977—In paragraph one, after "one year", added the language "next preceding his election".

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Apportionment

Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly. Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district. The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.

Any such decennial reapportionment law shall take effect immediately and not be subject to the limitations contained in Article IV, Section 13, of this Constitution.

The districts delineated in the decennial reapportionment law shall be implemented for the November general election for the United States House of Representatives, Senate, or House of Delegates, respectively, that is held immediately prior to the expiration of the term being served in the year that the reapportionment law is required to be enacted. A member in office at the time that a decennial redistricting law is enacted shall complete his term of office and shall continue to represent the district from which he was elected for the duration of such term of office so long as he does not move his residence from the district from which he was elected. Any vacancy occurring during such term shall be filled from the same district that elected the member whose vacancy is being filled.

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

Oath or Affirmation

All officers elected or appointed under or pursuant to this Constitution shall, before they enter on the performance of their public duties, severally take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as ...................., according to the best of my ability (so help me God)."

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Electoral Boards; Registrars and Officers of Election

There shall be in each county and city an electoral board composed of three members, selected as provided by law. In the appointment of the electoral boards, representation, as far as practicable, shall be given to each of the two political parties which, at the general election next preceding their appointment, cast the highest and the next highest number of votes. The present members of such boards shall continue in office until the expiration of their respective terms; thereafter their successors shall be appointed for the term of three years. Any vacancy occurring in any board shall be filled by the same authority for the unexpired term.

Each electoral board shall appoint the officers of election and general registrar for its county or city. In appointing such officers of election, representation, as far as practicable, shall be given to each of the two political parties which, at the general election next preceding their appointment, cast the highest and next highest number of votes.

No person, nor the deputy of any person, who is employed by or holds any office or post of profit or emolument, or who holds any elective office of profit or trust, under the governments of the United States, the Commonwealth, or any county, city, or town, shall be appointed a member of the electoral board or general registrar. No person, nor the deputy or the employee of any person, who holds any elective office of profit or trust under the government of the United States, the Commonwealth, or any county, city, or town of the Commonwealth shall be appointed an assistant registrar or officer of election.

The amendment ratified November 4, 1986 and effective January 1, 1987—In paragraph two, after "officers", deleted the words "and registrars" and added "and general registrar" after "of election."In paragraph three, after "the electoral board or", added the word "general" before "registrar" and deleted a reference to officer of election, and added the last sentence: "No person, nor the deputy or the employee of any person . . .".

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

Privileges of Voters During Election

No voter, during the time of holding any election at which he is entitled to vote, shall be compelled to perform military service, except in time of war or public danger, nor to attend any court as suitor, juror, or witness; nor shall any such voter be subject to arrest under any civil process during his attendance at election or in going to or returning therefrom

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