Secretary of the Commonwealth

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Summary

The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is responsible for assisting the Governor in a number of different capacities and has team members to oversee the following areas:

  • Appointments
  • Authentications and Notary
  • Conflict of Interest/Public Records
  • Extraditions
  • Lobbyist Registration
  • Pardons
  • Restoration of Rights
  • Service of Process
  • Constituency Engagement
  • Constituent Services

About

Contact

Locations

Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
1111 East Broad Street, 4th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: 804) 786-2441
Fax: Fax: 804-786-9549

Web

Website

Kelly Thomasson

Source: Webpage

Kelly Thomasson was reappointed as Secretary of the Commonwealth by Governor Northam after serving in that role since 2016. 

As Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kelly is passionate about creating a state government that is open and welcome to everyone.  Kelly assists the Governor in recruiting and appointing over 3,000 qualified, service-minded individuals to serve on Virginia’s boards, commissions and councils.  In addition, the office serves the Commonwealth through managing clemency petitions, restoration of civil rights, extraditions, service of process, authenticating documents and commissioning Notaries Public. The Secretary of the Commonwealth acts as the Governor’s liaison to Virginia’s Indian Tribes, as well as the Council on Women.

Kelly joined Governor McAuliffe’s administration as Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2014, and was appointed as Secretary in 2016.  Prior to that service, she worked for Senator Mark Warner for 13 years in various capacities, including Projects Director in his U.S. Senate office and Director of Scheduling in the Office of the Governor. Kelly is a native of Richmond and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is involved in many local community activities, including serving on the board of the Ashland Main Street Association.  Kelly serves on the Lead Virginia Board of Directors and was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve on the Virginia Information Technology Advisory Council.  She is a graduate of Lead Virginia and was named Top 40 Under 40 by Style Weekly in 2017.

Services

Appointments

Source: Webpages

ABOUT BOARD AND COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS

Gubernatorial appointments are an ongoing process, with approximately 900 appointments being made throughout the year.

Please note that the majority of boards and commissions have certain qualifications of appointment that must be met as set forth in the Code of Virginia. Additional information about the boards and commissions may be found in the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Also known as the “Blue Book,” the Report details the purpose, powers and duties of each board, seat qualifications or requirements by Code, and a listing of current board members.

The Governor makes appointments to three types of boards and commissions:

  • Advisory — An advisory board, commission or council serves as a formal liaison between the agency and the public, ensuring that the agency understands and responds to public concerns and that the activities of the agency are communicated to the public. Advisory boards provide advice and counsel to an executive branch agency.
  • Policy — A policy board, commission or council is specifically charged by statute to promulgate public policies or regulations. Policy boards may also be charged by statute with adjudicating violations of those policies or regulations.
  • Supervisory — A supervisory board, commission or council is responsible for agency operations, including approval of appropriations requests. Supervisory boards appoint the agency director, and the board ensures that the agency director complies with all board and statutory directives. Agency directors serve at the pleasure of the board.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Serving the Commonwealth of Virginia on a board or commission is both an honor and a privilege. Public service, however, is not for everyone. Individuals applying for a board or commission should be aware of the following:

As expected in an open and democratic government, the activities of boards and commissions are subject to public and press scrutiny.

Applicants who are selected by the Governor to serve will be required to complete a financial disclosure statement as a condition of serving on the board or commission.

Unless otherwise specified by law, most boards and commissions meet quarterly each year. However, some boards may meet more frequently due to the responsibilities and functions of the board.

Authentications

Source: Webpage

The purpose of an authentication by our office is to verify to foreign governments that certain Virginia officials are in good standing.  Depending on the destination country, the authentication is issued either as a Great Seal or an Apostille. The authentication only verifies that the Virginia Notary, Virginia Clerk of Court, or Virginia Deputy State Registrar is listed in our system, and they have notarized or issued your document correctly. Authentication at the state level is not required for documents to be used within the United States or its territories. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth does not regulate what documents are required by the foreign government. Documents issued by the FBI would be authenticated by the US State Department, not by the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Documents must be properly notarized by a Virginia notary (as allowed by law) within the past 12 months prior to presenting to our office for authentication.

Pardons

Source: Webpage

General Information

Pardons are considered for exceptional situations. Usually Virginia governors are reluctant to substitute their judgment for that of the courts. However, if an individual feels able to provide substantial evidence of such exceptional circumstances, he or she may submit a petition for pardon to the Governor. (If this petition for clemency is denied, the petitioner has no right of appeal, but may reapply after a two-year period.)

Three Pardon Types

There are three types of pardons:

1. A Simple Pardon is a statement of official forgiveness. While it does not expunge (remove the conviction from) the record, it often serves as a means for the petitioner to advance in employment, education, and self-esteem. Evidence of good citizenship is required, as are favorable recommendations from the officials involved in the case and from the Virginia Parole Board.  Click here to get more information about Simple Pardons.

2. A Conditional Pardon is available only to people who are currently incarcerated. It is usually granted for early release and involves certain conditions; if you violate these conditions, you could be put back in prison. There must be extraordinary circumstances for an inmate to be considered for such a pardon. Click here to get more information about Conditional Pardons.

3. An Absolute Pardon is rarely granted because it is based on the belief that the petitioner was unjustly convicted and is innocent. An absolute pardon is the only form of executive clemency that would allow you to petition the court to have that conviction removed from your criminal record. Click here to get more information about Absolute Pardons.

All petitions for pardon require you to submit the Virginia Pardon Petition Questionnaire.

All pardons will be processed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office.

Extraditions

Source: Webpage

Extradition Policy in Virginia

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2, of the United States Constitution defines extradition in the following way: “A person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.”

The extradition process can be used to return those convicted of a crime, those charged with a crime, persons who escape from the Department of Corrections, and parole and probation violators.

In Virginia, the provisions governing extradition procedures are set forth in Sections 19.2-84 through 19.2-118 of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended.

When Virginia is the demanding state, all extradition requests are reviewed by the Extradition Specialist in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to ensure that they are complete and comply with the requirements of the asylum state. Once all the documents are complete, it is the Governor who formally requests the extradition. Finally, if the extradition is granted, the Governor requests one or more law enforcement officers, designated by the local Commonwealth’s Attorney, to retrieve the fugitive.

When Virginia is the asylum state, the extradition request is received by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth from the demanding state. The extradition request is then forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General where it is reviewed for legal sufficiency. Once the Governor’s Office is satisfied that the demanding state has met the necessary requirements for extradition, a Governor’s Warrant is issued.

  • Extradition Manual – Word Doc (1.89Mb) | PDF (916kb)

Travel Orders

If you are a law enforcement representative and would like to submit your Travel Orders, you may use the link below.  If you are new to the system, you must create a new account which must be approved by the Director of Extraditions before you can submit Travel Orders.

Obtaining Governor’s Warrants

Requests for Governor’s Warrants are received and processed on behalf of the Governor by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Information necessary to obtain a Governor’s Warrant is established in law and there is essentially no discretion or ability to grant waivers from requirements.

The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is committed to working with Commonwealth’s Attorneys, their staffs and all other law enforcement officials to prevent any fugitive from escaping justice in Virginia. For this reason, the accompanying application forms and checklists for each type of Governor’s Warrant are provided to enable this office to have the necessary information for a Governor’s Warrant to be issued. Officials are not required to submit requests for a Governor’s Warrant on these forms, but doing so is highly recommended as a way to simplify the process and eliminate delay.

Time is of the essence in obtaining a Governor’s Warrant. A fugitive warrant/complaint pending serving a Governor’s Warrant will restrain a fugitive for 30 days, with a possible extension of up to 60 days. Typically, it takes 21 days from the time of submitting a request containing all necessary information to the time a Governor’s Warrant is served on the fugitive.

Should there be any questions regarding issuance of a Governor’s Warrant, please contact Christopher N. Frink, Director of Extraditions (804) 692-0116 .

Notary Commissions

Source: Webpage

The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is responsible for the commissioning of Notaries Public in Virginia, pursuant to Section 47.1-8 of the Code of Virginia. At any given time, approximately 120,000 Virginians are commissioned as a Notary Public.

How to become a notary or renew your commission:

Please read information carefully.

Notary Application Eligibility and Information
To be eligible to apply for a Virginia Notary Public Commission, you must be: (1) at least eighteen years old, (2) able to read and write the English language, (3) be a legal resident of the United States, (4) live or work in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and (5) have not been convicted of a felony. Any person who has ever been convicted of a felony under the laws of the United States or this Commonwealth, or the laws of any other state, shall not qualify to be appointed and commissioned as a Virginia Notary Public unless such person has had his/her rights restored.

Non-residents of Virginia may be appointed as notaries if they are regularly employed in the state and perform notary services in connection with their employment. A non-resident notary who ceases to be regularly employed in Virginia must surrender his or her commission.

Virginia is a “self certifying state” and does not require classes or testing to qualify to become a notary public.

Restoration of Rights

Source: Webpage

Anyone convicted of a felony in Virginia automatically loses their civil rights – the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, become a notary public and carry a firearm. The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore civil rights, not including firearm rights. Individuals seeking restoration of their civil rights are encouraged to contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

  • To be eligible for restoration of civil rights, an individual must have a felony conviction and be free from any term of incarceration and/or supervision resulting from felony conviction(s).
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth gives priority consideration to individuals who request restoration of their civil rights. An individual seeking restoration of their civil rights may contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth using the button below or by calling (804) 692-0104.
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office has identified individuals who may meet the Governor’s standards for restoration of rights and those individuals will be considered for possible restoration in the order of when they were released from supervision.

Service of Process

Source: Webpage

Virginians who have incurred financial loss and are pursuing civil remedies through the judicial system may request service through the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Service of Process Department will then serve notice of pending litigation to the defendant via certified mail.

Requests for service may be submitted either electronically via the online portal or via mail. Hard copies of all paperwork to be served must be received in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth at least 10 business days prior to the court date, whether submitting requests for service electronically via the online portal below or via mail. Requests for service are then processed within ten business days of the court date.

A fee of $28 is required for each service. Payment can be submitted by credit card via the online portal below (Visa, Discover, MasterCard, American Express) or by mail via check or money order (Made Payable to: The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Attn: Service of Process).

Virginia Indians

Source: Webpages

Archaeological evidence shows that people have been living in what is now Virginia as far back as 16-22,000 years ago. Virginia’s modern day tribes were firmly established in ancestral lands long before the English arrived to settle at Jamestown. These tribes contributed significantly to the newcomers’ ability to survive those first few years upon their arrival to present-day Virginia. Over the four hundred years since the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia’s native people have contributed greatly to the vitality of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the nation, and continue to do so.

Virginia State Recognized Tribes

TribeYear RecognizedLocation
Mattaponi17th centuryBanks of the Mattaponi River, King William Co.
Pamunkey17th centuryBanks of the Pamunkey River, King William Co.
Chickahominy1983Charles City County
Eastern Chickahominy1983New Kent County
Rappahannock1983Indian Neck, King & Queen County
Upper Mattaponi1983King William County
Nansemond1985Cities of Suffolk and Chesapeake
Monacan Indian Nation1989Bear Mountain, Amherst County
Cheroenhaka (Nottoway)2010Courtland, Southampton County
Nottoway of Virginia2010Capron, Southampton County
Patawomeck2010Stafford County

Seals of the Commonwealth

Source: Webpage

I would like to use the seals of the Commonwealth of Virginia:

Section 1-505 of the Code of Virginia provides that the seals of the Commonwealth are deemed the property of the Commonwealth; and no persons shall exhibit, display, or in any manner utilize the seals or any facsimile or representation of the seals of the Commonwealth for nongovernmental purposes unless such use is specifically authorized.

My company would like to use the seal on its products:

Pursuant to Section 2.2-122 of the Code of Virginia, the seals of the Commonwealth may be authorized for commercial purposes upon a finding that such use promotes an appropriate image of the Commonwealth, its heritage and its history, and that such use is carried out in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth. An individual shall be deemed qualified to protect and promote the image of the Commonwealth if it holds licenses to produce products associated with museums and sites of major historical importance in the Commonwealth.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth determines the appropriateness of any contract entered into for the commercial use of the seals of the Commonwealth, the product intended to be sold, any marketing activities undertaken to promote the sale of the product, and the pricing structure of the product.

Inquiries into the commercial use of the seals of the Commonwealth of Virginia should be directed to John Byxbe at the Department of General Services at 804-225-3796

Blue Book of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Source: Webpage

Pursuant to § 2.2-402 of the Code of Virginia, this report identifies, “(i) the boards of visitors of all public institutions, and other boards appointed by the Governor; (ii) all commissions issued under appointments made by the Governor, except commissions to notaries public; (iii) all departments, boards, councils, commissions, and other collegial bodies created in the executive branch of state government; and (iv) such other matters as the Governor requires.”

This online Blue Book provides users with a Web-accessible record that is presented to the Governor and General Assembly annually. There is no charge or fee to access this information.

Blue Book

Constituent Services and Community Engagement

Source: Webpage

The Governor’s Office of Constituent Services and Community Engagement facilitates communication with the Governor, processes requests for proclamations and other commemorative documents, and manages flag and other protocol related requests.

Some examples include: Birth of a Baby, Birthday, Graduation, Retirement, Class Reunion, and Proclamation.

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