Periodic elections are held in Charlottesville and Albemarle County for their citizens to elect local, state, and national offices. Currently, all elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Primary and special elections are held as needed.
For future election schedules and calendar dates, see City of Charlottesville Ten Year Election Calendar & Schedule
Types of Elections in Virginia
General elections fill offices for elections regularly scheduled by law. Regularly scheduled elections include those for federal, state and local offices such as the U.S. Congress, statewide and local offices such as those of the Governor, State Senator, Sheriff, School Board, and many more.
Special Elections are held for unexpired terms and referenda. Also, if someone cannot complete their entire term of office a Special Election is held to fill the seat. Special elections may also be held to decide the outcome of a referendum on the ballot. Special elections can be held on the same day as regularly scheduled General Elections.
Primary elections determine which candidates will be the nominees of Virginia political parties to appear on the ballot in a future general election. Primary elections do not fill any offices. In Dual or Multiple Primaries, two or more parties' primaries are held on the same day. Virginia law permits a voter to vote in either primary, but in only one held on the same day.
Elections in Charlottesville
- Charlottesville City Council members (5 seats total) are elected for four-year terms, with elections staggered each two years (for 2 or 3 seats).
- City Council elections from 1928 until 1970 were held in June of even-numbered years.
- From 1972 until 2006, City Council elections were held in May of even-numbered years. (In 2004, by ordinance, the City Council changed when elections were to be held, starting with the 2007 election.)
- Since 2007, City Council elections have been held in November of odd-numbered years. In 2020, the City Charter was amended to reflect the change to elections held from 2006 to 2020 and to include the 2021 election - the charter amendment was approved by the General Assembly (effective 7/1/20). If Primaries are held, they are in June of the same year.
- School Board candidates in Virginia must qualify for the ballot as “independents” (by voter petition signatures); There is never a primary for school board.
- Charlottesville City School Board Members (7 seats total) have been elected since 2006. Prior to 2004, members were appointed by City Council.
- School Board elections are held at the same time as City Council’s. Board members also serve 4-year terms, elected on a staggered schedule (3 or 4 seats) every two years.
Note: Beginning in 2007, the election cycle shifted to odd-numbered years with the municipal election occurring concurrently with the November general election (thus, three new members were elected in November 2007 and two in November 2009). Prior to 2007 these officials were selected in spring municipal elections - three in even-numbered “presidential” years and two in even-numbered “off” years (for example, three members were elected in 2004, two were elected in 2006).
2020 election cycle
There were no local offices up for election in 2020, but there were two constitutional questions, Congressional races, and a presidential contest.
- Albemarle County Republican Party
- Democratic Party - Albemarle Charlottesville, Va official site
- Charlottesville Democratic Committee
- Republican Party - Charlottesville, Va official site
See also: List of political action committees
To be listed on the ballot for City Council, candidates must either be nominated by one of the two recognized political parties, or file a petition with the signatures of 125 registered City voters. Candidates may also seek election through “write-in” ballots.
Local election history
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- 2008 - Virginia State Board of Elections policy change earlier in the year allowed students to use either school or home address for voter registration purposes.
Charlottesville Elections Studies
The Electoral Board for the City of Charlottesville is a local board responsible to the State Board of Elections. This bipartisan local electoral board is composed of three members who are appointed by the respective Circuit Court.
Albemarle County Board of Elections
The Albemarle County Electoral Board is a three-member body established in accordance with Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution of Virginia and Section 24.2-106 of the Code of Virginia. The Electoral Board is responsible for the appointment of the General Registrar and for the administration of all federal, state, and local elections held within the locality. The Board is composed of two members representing the political party of the current Virginia Governor and one member of the party receiving the second-highest number of votes for that office.
As of January 1, 2023, the Board members are:
Campaign finance requirements in Virginia
Virginia is one of 10 states with no contribution limits on individual donors to political candidates and one of just five with no limits on contribution by corporations. It is one of 18 states with no restrictions on state party committees’ ability to contribute money to candidate’s campaign.
While federal laws regulate the use of money in federal elections (i.e., presidential and congressional elections), the states themselves implement and enforce campaign finance laws for state-level candidates (such as city council and state legislators). Virginia has one of the least restrictive and policed campaign finance systems in the country, with lawmakers only barred from using campaign funds for personal use once they close out their accounts.
The commonwealth of Virginia is the only state that currently allows unlimited personal use of campaign dollars, according to the campaign finance reform group American Promise. 
- Web. Electoral Board, Albemarle County, retrieved September 25, 2020.
- Web. Virginia, an 'outlier' on campaign finance reform, considers new restrictions., Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aug 24, 2021, retrieved Feb. 27, 2023.
- Web. Could Virginia pass campaign finance reform this year?, ASSOCIATED PRESS / The Virginia-Pilot, FEB 17, 2021 AT 9:10 AM, retrieved April 21, 2021.
- Web. Virginia Becomes 22nd State Supporting Constitutional Amendment Efforts, February 3, 2021, retrieved April 20, 2021.
- Virginia State Board of Elections
- Virginia Public Access Project - Campaign finance information about candidates, committees, donors, etc.