Returns in such election shall be subject to the inquiry, determination and judgment of the circuit court for the county in which the election is held, upon complaint of fifteen or more voters of the county of an undue election or false return. The complaint shall fully set out the grounds of contest and, if any votes were improperly received or rejected, shall give a list of such votes, with objections to the action of the election officials in receiving or rejecting the same. Two of the persons making the complaint shall take and subscribe an oath that the facts therein stated are true to the best of their knowledge and belief. The complaint shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court for the county in which such election is held. Notice of contest, stating that the complaint has been filed in the clerk’s office, shall be given by posting the same at the courthouse door and at two or more public places in the county, and by publishing it once a week for two successive weeks in some newspaper published in the county or, if there is none so published, then in some newspaper having general circulation in the county. The time and place of taking depositions, if any, shall be stated in the notice, which shall entitle the parties giving the notice to take the depositions to be read as evidence in the contest. The complaint shall be filed and notice given within ten days after the election, otherwise the complaint shall not be valid. Any one or more persons who voted at such removal election may, within thirty days from the election, file in the circuit court clerk’s office an answer to the complaint, in which any of the allegations of the complaint may be denied, and any statement made going to show the regularity of the old election, and the propriety of the action of the election officials in receiving or rejecting the votes set out in the complaint, and a list of the votes he or they will dispute. If the respondents desire to take depositions, notice thereof shall be given to any one or more of the persons signing the complaint. If no answer is filed to the complaint within thirty days from the election, no one shall be heard to deny the allegations of the complaint, but the persons making the same shall prove the allegations thereof to the satisfaction of the court. The circuit court for the county in which the election is held, after the expiration of thirty days from the election, shall proceed to pass upon the complaint without a jury, on such depositions as may have been taken under the notices aforesaid, and upon such other legal testimony as may be adduced by either party at the hearing of the case. In judging such election and return, the court shall proceed on the merits thereof and decide the same on the Constitution and laws and according to the right of the case and shall enter such order as will carry its decision into full and complete effect. The judgment of the court shall be final.
Code 1950, § 15-53; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-569; 1997, c. 587.