SD25 - Recodification of Title 24.1 of the Code of Virginia
The 1991 General Assembly requested the Virginia Code Commission to study and revise Title 24.1 and to report its findings to the Governor and the 1993 Session of the General Assembly in the form of a recodified title. (1991 SJR 242) The Resolution directing this recodification emphasized the need to eliminate obsolete and duplicative provisions and to use plain and precise language. The goal of this recodification is a clearer, more easily understood set of election laws and the elimination of ambiguities in the present law rather than substantive changes in the law.
By way of contrast, the Title 24.1 recodification of the election laws was earlier recodification emphasized a large number of substantive changes, including the establishment of the central registration roster by the State Board of Elections, the elimination of the remnants of the precinct registration system, required statewide use of voting machines, elimination of the run-off primary, restrictions on the use of absentee ballots as a means to reduce abuses of the absentee ballot process, and expanded campaign finance disclosure provisions. Those reforms have proven to be beneficial over the past two decades.
Many of the changes in proposed Title 24.2 are the progeny of the substantive revisions enacted in 1970. Over a 23-year span, the automated voter registration system, the role of the general registrar and the campaign disclosure laws have changed and matured. Most of the changes have been piecemeal. The present recodification provides the opportunity to review provisions in the context of the whole title -- a process not feasible during the regular legislative sessions.
There is considerable restructuring in proposed Title 24.2 as the outlines of the organization of Titles 24.1 and 24.2 indicate. The reorganization is designed to provide a more logical framework for the title beginning with definitions and the administrative structure for our registration and election system. Definitions and terminology are brought up to date. Many changes reflect the effort to use simpler, more easily understood language.
The outlines, the recodification of Title 24.1, and related revisions in Title 15.1 are set out in Appendix I. Appendix II carries the comparative tables which cross-reference the sections of Title 24.1 with counterpart sections in Title 24.2 and vice versa.
The Code Commission proposes that the recodification take effect December 1, 1993, after the conclusion of the 1993 election cycle. The recodification will be submitted to the United States Department of Justice for review pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as was done in 1970 and is done for all changes in the election laws.
The Secretary and staff of the State Board of Elections, the staff of the Attorney General's Office, and representative general registrars provided much-appreciated assistance to the Code Commission in this study.
The Code Commission recommends that the General Assembly enact legislation at the 1993 Session to adopt proposed Title 24.2 and related revisions in Title 15.1.