HB931: Elections; party identification on ballots in local elections.

HOUSE BILL NO. 931
Offered January 11, 2012
Prefiled January 11, 2012
A BILL to amend and reenact §§ 24.2-613 and 24.2-640 of the Code of Virginia, relating to elections; party identification of candidates on ballots.
Patron-- Lingamfelter

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That §§ 24.2-613 and 24.2-640 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 24.2-613. Form of ballot.

The ballots shall comply with the requirements of this title and the standards prescribed by the State Board.

For elections for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices only, eachEach candidate who has been nominated by a political party or in a primary election shall be identified by the name of his political party. Independent candidates shall be identified by the term "Independent." For the purpose of this section, any Independent candidate may, by producing sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a "recognized political party" to the State Board, have the term "Independent" on the ballot converted to that of a "recognized political party" on the ballot and be treated on the ballot in a manner consistent with the candidates nominated by political parties. For the purpose of this section, a "recognized political party" is defined as an organization that, for at least six months preceding the filing of its nominee for the office, has had in continual existence a state central committee composed of registered voters residing in each congressional district of the Commonwealth, a party plan and bylaws, and a duly elected state chairman and secretary. A letter from the state chairman of a recognized political party certifying that a candidate is the nominee of that party and also signed by such candidate accepting that nomination shall constitute sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a recognized political party. The name of the political party, the name of the "recognized political party," or term "Independent" may be shown by an initial or abbreviation to meet ballot requirements.

Except as provided for primary elections, the State Board shall determine by lot the order of the political parties, and the names of all candidates for a particular office shall appear together in the order determined for their parties. In an election district in which more than one person is nominated by one political party for the same office, the candidates' names shall appear alphabetically in their party groups under the name of the office, with sufficient space between party groups to indicate them as such. For the purpose of this section and § 24.2-640, except as provided for presidential elections in § 24.2-614, "recognized political parties" shall be treated as a class; the order of the recognized political parties within the class shall be determined by lot by the State Board; and the class shall follow the political parties as defined by § 24.2-101 and precede the independent class. Independent candidates shall be treated as a class under "Independent"; their names shall be placed on the ballot after the political parties and recognized political parties; and where there is more than one independent candidate for an office, their names shall appear alphabetically.

No individual's name shall appear on the ballot more than once for the same office.

In preparing the ballots for general, special and primary elections, the State Board and electoral boards shall cause to be printed in not less than 10-point type, immediately below the title of any office, a statement of the number of candidates who may be voted for for that office. The following language shall be used: "Vote for not more than ......... ".

At any precinct at which mark sense ballots are used, the mark sense ballot may be used in lieu of the official paper ballot with the approval of the State Board.

Any locality which uses mark sense ballots at one or more precincts, including any central absentee precinct, may, with the approval of the State Board, use the mark sense ballot or printed reproductions of the mark sense ballot in lieu of the official paper ballot. Such reproductions shall be printed and otherwise handled in accordance with all laws and procedures that apply to official paper ballots.

§ 24.2-640. Ballots generally.

In every county and city using mechanical or direct electronic voting systems requiring printed ballots, the electoral board shall furnish a sufficient number of ballots printed on plain white paper, of such form and size as will fit the ballot frames. The names of the various candidates shall be printed in type not less than fourteen point. On mechanical devices, the name of the office for which candidates are offering for election shall be printed in reverse printing or overlaid with a colored plastic strip.

For elections for federal, statewide, and General Assembly offices only, each Each candidate who has been nominated by a political party or in a primary election shall be identified by the name of his political party. Independent candidates shall be identified by the term "Independent." For the purpose of this section, any Independent candidate may, by producing sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a "recognized political party" to the State Board, have the term "Independent" on the ballot converted to that of a "recognized political party" on the ballot and be treated on the ballot in a manner consistent with the candidates nominated by political parties. For the purpose of this section, a "recognized political party" is defined as an organization that, for at least six months preceding the filing of its nominee for the office, has had in continual existence a state central committee composed of registered voters residing in each congressional district of the Commonwealth, a party plan and bylaws, and a duly elected state chairman and secretary. A letter from the state chairman of a recognized political party certifying that a candidate is the nominee of that party and also signed by such candidate accepting that nomination shall constitute sufficient and appropriate evidence of nomination by a recognized political party. The name of the political party, the name of the "recognized political party," or term "Independent" may be shown by an initial or abbreviation to meet ballot requirements. All candidates shall be arranged on each device or other ballot to be electronically counted, either in columns or horizontal rows, and the caption of the various ballots on the devices shall be placed so that the voter knows what feature is to be used or operated to vote for his choice. No push knob, key lever or other device shall be used to vote for any candidate other than on an individual basis except for presidential electors. In districts in which more than one person is nominated by a single party for the same office, the names of the candidates shall appear alphabetically within their party groups.

The electoral board in any locality which converted from a mechanical to an electronic voting system after January 1, 1994, may use a ballot which (i) is similar to the ballot used on the mechanical system previously used in the locality, (ii) aligns the candidates of each political party and independent candidates on the same row or column, and (iii) provides a separate row or column for each political party and for independent candidates.

The provisions of general law concerning ballots shall apply unless in conflict with this section.