Voter Complaints

If you have a complaint related to your registration or voting experience, the law provides several options for you to take action.

Registration Denial: Your 10-Day Court Appeal Right

If your complaint relates to the denial of your application for voter registration, you have the right to take an immediate appeal to your local circuit court. Your local general registrar when denying your application to register must include notice of your appeal right with a suggested form for you to file. A $10 court filing fee is required and your appeal must be filed within 10 days after the denial. If you believe you have been wrongfully denied registration and have not received any communication, please contact the general registrar for the city or county where you live or the Department of Elections for immediate assistance.

Complaint to the Department of Elections

Informal

The online complaint form will notify the Department of Elections and the General Registrar of the locality where the incident occurred of what has happened. This option is most useful in reporting an incident whose resolution is time critical. You can fill out the online complaint form>>>

Formal

The Department of Elections administers a formal grievance process under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for voters who believe that their voting rights have been violated. State and local election officials are encouraged to work with voters to resolve issues informally if possible. Persons wanting to file a formal complaint are encouraged to review the Election and Voter FAQs and the requirements that allow you to vote. If you do not understand the requirements, you may ask an election official to explain them to you. Please remember while elections staff can provide information regarding the requirements of federal and state election laws, the staff is prohibited from providing legal or tax advice to the public. Guidance on these matters should be obtained from a legal or tax professional. Persons needing legal assistance may wish to contact the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service, a service offered by the Virginia State Bar. Voter advocates may also be present to provide assistance.

If you feel you met all the requirements but were still not allowed to vote, ask an election official to contact the Voter Registrar’s office about your case before you leave the polling place. The Voter Registrar will investigate your case and may be able to resolve the problem immediately.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, call the Department of Elections at (800) 552-9745 as soon as possible, preferably before the polls close. The sooner the Department knows about your problem, the more likely you will get a satisfactory answer on Election Day.

If you still believe your voting rights may have been violated or may be violated in the near future, you may file a formal complaint using the Virginia’s Voter Complaint form.

  1. Fill out the Complaint Form (EnglishEspañol). Provide as much information as possible so we can fully understand the nature of the problem. You have 10 days from the date of the incident to file a complaint.
  2. Have the Complaint Form notarized.
  3. Mail the signed and notarized form to:
    Deputy Commissioner
    Virginia Department of Elections
    Washington Building, First Floor, 1100 Bank Street,
    Richmond, VA 23219

The Department of Elections will review your complaint according to the following procedure:
Initially staff must determine if the complaint alleges a violation of Title III of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Title III includes voting system standards; accessibility of voting systems to persons with disabilities; instructions on correcting voting errors; identification requirements for voting in federal elections if registration was by mail; statewide computerized voter registration list; contents of registration forms; and provisional voting.

If the complaint does not allege a violation of Title III, the complaint will be treated as an informal complaint under 1 VAC 20-20-80. Informal complaints will not be subject to alternative dispute resolution procedures outlined below.

If the complaint alleges a violation of Title III, the complaint will be acknowledged in writing, and the complainant will be offered the opportunity to request a hearing on the record by telephone or in person as determined by the Department which may combine similar complaints. The hearing will be conducted as a fact-finding, problem solving forum before a Department employee to develop a plan to make sure the violation, if any, does not happen again. A record must be kept, including copies of any documents submitted and minutes, a tape, or other record of the hearing.

The Department of Elections will prepare a final determination. Neither financial payments nor civil penalties are authorized; remedies may include written findings that a violation of Title III has occurred, strategies for ensuring that violation does not occur again. Final determinations must be signed by the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Elections. All determination letters will be posted on the Department’s website. Informal complaints will be resolved by staff and responses may be provided by phone, email, or mail, as deemed appropriate.

The Department will handle all formal complaints to allow a final determination within 90 days of the receipt of the complaint. If delays put the 90 day deadline at risk, the Department may ask the complainant to provide an extension to complete the investigation or to conduct the hearing. If the complainant does not agree to provide an extension, the final determination must either be issued within the 90 days, or the matter must be referred to the alternative dispute resolution process. Informal complaints are not ineligible for alternative dispute resolution unless the Department determines the circumstances warrant this action.

The Department of Elections will provide an alternative dispute resolution process for complaints that are not resolved within 90 days of the filing of the complaint (unless the complainant consents to a longer period for making such a determination). The alternative dispute resolution process is a cooperative, non adversarial, consensus building approach, unlike arbitration, mediation or litigation declares a winner. The Department will select a volunteer from a panel of state employee volunteers who agree to provide their services to convene a meeting of the interested parties to resolve a particular complaint or complaints. The panel member will recommend an outcome to the Commissioner who within 60 days may adopt or revise the recommendation. The Commissioner’s final determination may be appealed to the full State Board of Elections within 15 days. The Board may hold a hearing or rely on the record. The Board will decide all appeals within 45 days of the request for an appeal by a complainant.

*Notice Regarding Personal Identifiable Information
Information contained in complaints filed with the Department of Elections is subject to public viewing. Generally, personal identifiable information such as social security or voter identification number, date of birth, or financial institution account number should NOT be included in complaints submitted to the Department of Elections. The person who prepares or submits a complaint to the Department is responsible for ensuring that the document contains no such information. The Department is authorized to obliterate, without prior notice, personal identifiable data included in a document.