Electronic Participation in Meetings

A Newport News Electoral Board policy

Purpose: To establish a policy that allows the Electoral Board to properly conduct meetings with the electronic participation of its members.

General requirements

Board members may participate by electronic means in a meeting of the Electoral Board under the following conditions:

  • The means of electronic participation permits simultaneous communication;
  • The meeting complies with all other requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA;
  • Subsequent to its adoption by the majority of the Board, this policy is posted on the website normally used for notice of public meetings.

Action during the meeting

When a meeting with electronic communication is conducted, the Board must comply with the following guidelines:

  • A quorum of two members of the Board must be physically present at the meeting place; and
  • Any disapproval of a member’s participation from a remote location shall be recorded in the minutes with specificity. Votes must be taken by roll call.

Member attendance requirement

  • Annually, each member of the Board may participate remotely in 25% of the meetings of the electoral board or two meetings if the board meets more than eight (8) times.
  • Each member must physically attend at least 75% of meetings annually.

Effect on executive sessions

  • This policy does not affect the Board’s right to exclude the public from an executive session in which a member participates by electronic communication.

Declared emergencies

The Electoral Board may meet by electronic communication means without a quorum physically assembled at one location when the Governor has declared a state of emergency in accordance with Virginia Code §44-146.17, provided:

  • The catastrophic nature of the declared emergency makes it impracticable or unsafe to assemble a quorum in a single location, and the purpose of the meeting is to address the emergency.

If it holds a meeting pursuant to this section, the Electoral Board shall:

  • Give public notice using the best available method given the nature of the emergency contemporaneously with the notice provided members of the Electoral Board;
  • Make arrangements for public access to the meeting;
  • Make available to the public, at the time of the meeting, agenda packets and all materials, unless exempt, that will be distributed to members of the Electoral Board and that have been made available to the Board’s staff in sufficient time for duplication and forwarding to all locations at which public access will be provided;
  • Recorded minutes of the meeting; and
  • Record in the minutes votes taken by name in roll-call fashion.

The nature of the emergency and the fact that the meeting was held by electronic communication means shall be stated in the minutes of the meeting.

If the Electoral Board meets by electronic means as provided in this section, it shall make a written report of the following to the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council and the Joint Commission on Technology and Science by December 15 of each year:

  • The total number of electronic communication meetings held that year;
  • The dates and purposes of the meetings;
  • The number of sites for each meeting;
  • The types of electronic communication means by which the meetings were held;
  • The number of participants, including members of the public, at each meeting location;
  • The identity of the members of the Electoral Board recorded as absent and those recorded as present at each meeting location;
  • A summary of any public comment received about the electronic communication meetings; and
  • A summary of the Electoral Board’s experience using electronic communication meetings, including its logistical and technical experience.

References: Virginia Code §2.2-3707 and §2.2-3708.2; §2.2-3711 and §2.2-3712

Effective Date: September 10, 2019