HB1646: Referendum elections; voter petition requirements.

HOUSE BILL NO. 1646
Offered January 12, 2011
Prefiled January 10, 2011
A BILL to amend and reenact § 24.2-684.1 of the Code of Virginia, relating to referendum elections; voter petition requirements.
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Patron-- Brink
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Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That § 24.2-684.1 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 24.2-684.1. Requirements for voter petitions to call for referendum elections.

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 ten 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 shall provide on the petition 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.