It seems that the plot is thickening in my home state of Virginia where five of the major GOP candidates have been excluded from the primary ballot due to a lack of valid petition signatures. Many have been asking how these campaigns could be so ill-prepared in gaining ballot access in a state which holds 10% of the Super Tuesday delegates. With some further digging, it appears we’re now getting answers as to why only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney made the cut and will appear on the March 6 Virgnia primary ballot.

The simple explanation for the disqualification of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich has to do with a rule change in October 2011 by the Republican Party of Virginia. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman all fell short of the 10,000 required signatures so they likely would have been denied ballot access regardless of the rule change.

The report from Big Government:

What has not been reported is that in the only other presidential primaries in which Virginia required 10,000 signatures (2000, 2004, and 2008) the signatures were not checked. Any candidate who submitted at least 10,000 raw signatures was put on the ballot. In 2000, five Republicans qualified: George Bush, John McCain, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, and Steve Forbes. In 2004 there was no Republican primary in Virginia. In 2008, seven Republicans qualified: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Alan Keyes.

The only reason the Virginia Republican Party checked the signatures for validity for the current primary is that in October 2011, an independent candidate for the legislature, Michael Osborne, sued the Virginia Republican Party because it did not check petitions for its own members, when they submitted primary petitions. Osborne had no trouble getting the needed 125 valid signatures for his own independent candidacy, but he charged that his Republican opponent’s primary petition had never been checked, and that if it had been, that opponent would not have qualified.

The lawsuit, Osborne v Boyles, cl 11-520-00, was filed in Bristol County Circuit Court. It was filed too late to be heard before the election, but is still pending. The effect of the lawsuit was to persuade the Republican Party to start checking petitions. If the Republican Party had not changed that policy, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry would be on the 2012 ballot.

The bold emphasis was added by me. In 2000 and 2008, stunningly, there was no checking of the 10,000 required signatures which meant anyone who turned in 10,000 signatures was granted ballot access regardless of whether how many might have been duplicates or from non-registered Virginia voters.

As a result, Rick Perry has decided to bring this issue to Federal Court launching a lawsuit today. Report from Fox News:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign announced Tuesday it will file a lawsuit in an attempt to get on the ballot for Virginia’s Republican presidential primary.

Perry failed to qualify for the ballot after the Republican Party of Virginia said his campaign had not filed the required 10,000 signatures.

“Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous and are particularly problematic in a multi-candidate election,” Perry campaign communications director Ray Sullivan said in a statement published by National Journal.

“We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified to provide greater ballot access to Virginia voters and the candidates seeking to earn their support.”

The state requires candidates to submit petitions with 10,000 signatures from registered Virginia voters with 400 signatures from voters in each of its eleven congressional districts.

Perry’s campaign said it submitted 11,911 signatures for verification.

In the statement announcing the legal challenge, Perry’s campaign said only 119,034 Virginians voted in the 2008 Republican primary, making the requirement of 10,000 signatures “unrealistic and onerous.”

I highly doubt Perry’s lawsuit will gain anything prior to the March 6, 2012 primary date, however, he might succeed in bringing the issue to light and possibly forcing some kind of change down the road. Though for a candidate who champions states’ rights, a lawsuit in Federal Court to change state primary rules might not lend itself to that position.

Update

It now appears that campaigns were given ample notice of the requirements to gain access to the Virginia primary ballot. See this notice from the Virginia State Board of Elections which clearly lays out the following regarding petition signature guidelines. Apparently the campaigns knew as early as March 2011 of these requirements.

Must be signed by not less than 10,000 qualified voters in Virginia, including at least 400 qualified voters from each of Virginia=s eleven congressional districts, who attest that they intend to participate in the primary of the same political party as the candidate named on the petition.

Because many people who are not registered to vote will sign a petition, it is recommended that 15,000 – 20,000 signatures be obtained with at least 700 signatures from each congressional district.

Source: Deadlines, Duties and Ballot Access Requirements

The 10,000 signature requirement comes directly from Virginia law in subsection 24.2-506.

38 COMMENTS

    • Reminds me of all the busy work in High School, but still jump through the hoops and follow directions if you want to succeed. Looks like a lot of politicians can’t follow simple directions.

  1. I find it an outrage that any viable candidate is being left off of the ballot, especially Rick Perry who is our very best candidate for the Presidency and whose experience includes three terms as the most popularly elected Governor of Texas. What sort of complete political INSANITY is this? It looks as though the party were attempting to force the electorate to vote for either Romney or Paul. I cannot imagine establishment conservative Republicans wanting to be limited to those two choices when we have several others who are qualified to run and have already been on the campaign trail toward that purpose for months!

    • Ms DeLacy — It all hinges on the definition of “viable”. VA set levels that they felt were needed to weed out non-viable candidates. After his showing in Iowa, I wonder if Mr Perry (who I like) is viable or not. Lastly, as the article states, Mr Perry is a strong advocate of States Rights, then turns to the Federal courts seeking help with a State issue. Hypocrisy?

  2. Texas has some very onerous ballot-access laws, itself. Perry has little room to throw stones at Virginia.

    I agree that these ballot-access restrictions are a problem, as is the fact that the state and federal governments have instituted laws entrenching the 2-party system to such a degree that anything else becomes nearly impossible.

    However, the fact is that ALL the candidates had the same rules to play under, and for Perry in particular to cry foul is laughable. In Virginia, if you submit 10,000 verified signatures then you’re in. If you submit 15,000 signatures, then they don’t even get checked/verified. If over 15% of Perry’s signatures were invalid, then either his campaign was sloppy (most likely) or cheating. If cheating, then he didn’t do a very thorough job, as all he would have to do is invent another 3100 signatures and he’d have skated right onto the ballot.

    In Texas, in 2008, we had lawsuits that went to the state Supreme Court because the GOP ignored its own rules for local and state conventions. I’m actually THRILLED to see that the VA GOP is actually holding itself to its own rules, instead of running roughshod over them. That being said, however, I really hope that they discover that some of these other candidates actually did legitimately qualify, after all.

  3. It makes me happy that the GOP in Va. is standing for principle over politics…….if the candidates that didn’t qualify couldn’t muster up 10,000 signatures why should the deserve to be included on the ballot? The Va. GOP has more creditability than the GOPNC!

  4. So Only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney actually have enough support from Republicans in Virginia, Newt’s State of residence to be, to be on the Primary ballot. I bet if the tables were turned and Ron Paul was a single signature short then we would be reading a far different story.

    • I’m sure those that support Romney and Paul are pretty excited about not having others on the ballot. To be honest I may feel the same if I was a supporter of either of them, however I haven’t decided yet who I’m going to vote for but I guess the decision is out of my hands.

      • I’m one of those (Paul supporters), and I’m not excited about it at all. With others on the ballot, the candidates and everyone else can see who the people prefer. When the ballot is limited, there will always be speculation that (non-listed) candidate X would have been the choice.

        I’m also unexcited due to the Virginia GOP’s use of a loophole in the national GOP’s rules about scheduling primaries. By moving their early, Virginia was one of the states that was supposed to go to proportional award of delegates (instead of winner-take-all). However, they (Virginia) set up their system so that it is only proportional for a small subset of the delegates (i.e. the at-large delegates) and then only if no candidate wins over 50% of the vote. Since Virginia allows no write-in votes in the primary, either Romney or Paul will have to get over 50%, and thus there will be no proportional award of delegates at all. The Virginia GOP got their cake and is going to eat it, too.

        • I should point out that, earlier, I WAS excited about this as I thought Virginia was showing integrity and standing up for the rules. It was only when I found out how they had subverted the national rules that I became disappointed in them.

    • If Ron Paul was a single signature short then it would be a conspiracy dang it. The supporters of Ron Paul and Ron Paul scream conspiracy and fraud at everything. Can you imagine how ineffective the already ineffective government would become with him in office?

  5. I think the problem is that the GOP is only “standing for principle over politics” because they are facing a lawsuit. If in previous elections the party did not verify signatures there is an expectation by the current candidates that they will not verify them now. That doesn’t make it right for the candidates to not follow the rule but it handicaps the voters of Virginia in comparision to the other states. Virginia now does not have the same say in the primary as other states. I don’t think it’s fair.

  6. Interesting that sometimes Republicans want voter identification to be checked, and other times they do not. Perry complains that he would be on the ballot if voter id’s WERE NOT checked, yet many Republicans legislatures have enacted laws required the verification of voter ids. Which shall it be, check voter id or not?

    • As I see it, the Republicans want voter ID checked for those voters who aren’t for them, but aren’t interested in ID checks of those who will vote for them.

  7. It’s the GOP doing the job on themselves. Complaints strike me as a bit like the whining we hear from Gingrich when things don’t go his way.

    Now, the Virginia GOP is demanding a signature on a loyalty oath for those who vote in the primary. That’s brought about by voters from other parties being able to vote in any Virginia Presidential primary, but it sure swings a bat at the Constitution.

    Government loyalty oaths became popular in the late ’60s and on, even when applying for a federally backed college loan: it never seemed obvious to those who set the oaths up that those who are most likely to sign without a tremor are those who are most likely to break to fool oath anyway. It is sometimes difficult to believe the ineptness of politicians and their hangers-on.

  8. Romney’s signatures were not checked, because he had at least 15,000 signatures. Paul’s, Gingrich’s and Perry’s signatures were checked. The same standards should be applied to all candidates. It’s clear that the Virginia Republican party, is granting favoritism to certain candidates, given the past incident with Osbourne.

    • Good grief. It is the Republican Party that set the rules, people! To change the rules, they have to follow the law, which is where the problem lies.

      I wouldn’t vote for anyone currently on the Republican ticket, so I have no problem there. I’m not happy with Obama, but the bucketheads who are slapping themselves silly in the cartoonish run-up to the real election don’t provide any relief.

    • The rules are perfectly logical to me. The VA GOP wants to see 10,000 valid signatures (incl. 400 from each House district). They know that, historically, a certain number/percentage of signatures are likely to be invalid, so the check/verify the signatures. HOWEVER, if they get at least 15,000 signatures submitted, they also know they are highly unlikely to have 5,000+ invalid in that group, so they save time, money, and headaches and don’t check them if they get that many.

      I really don’t think they should require so many signatures in any case, but since they do, this if-you-go-50%-over-then-we-assume-you-met-the-requirement rule seems quite reasonable to me.

  9. Virginia changing their rules at the last minute makes them look mighty, mighty small minded and arrogant. Not very noble, and certainly not something the Tea Party will get excited about. They obviously don’t care much about what the people of their state want.

    • This rule was set up by the GOP of Virginia, not the state, and the change was not at the last minute, Ms Mulholand. The state does require a certain amount of time before printing ballots, and there apparently isn’t enough time. Gingrich lives in Virginia. We can assume, can’t we, that the remaining candidates can read?

      They knew the rules. IIRC, this rule was implemented over three years ago.

  10. As per Virginia law in subsection 24.2-506,

    “For a candidate for the United States Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, 10,000 signatures, including the signatures of at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the Commonwealth”

    This section of the law says nothing about candidates for President and Vice President. The 10,000-signature requirement must be in some other section of Virginia law. Having said that, there is blame to go around on both sides. The Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Santorum and Huntsman campaigns have no one to blame but themselves for failing to collect the required number of signatures. They knew what the law called for. The state is wrong by requiring 10,000 signatures and needs to reduce this requirement to possibly 5,000 or 7,500 signatures. EVERY SIGNATURE FOR EVERY CANDIDATE NEEDS TO BE CHECKED. This would eliminate the apparent favoritism toward Mitt Romney.

    • I am not sure it’s 24.2-506 that we should be looking at, but rather 24.2-521.

      24.2-506 addresses candidacy requirements for individuals not nominated by a political party.
      24.2-521 addresses requirements to show up on a primary’s ballot.

      The two are pretty much identical in content, and I agree that candidates for President/Vice President are not explicitly mentioned in either section of the Code. They might by fall under item number 4 (“… or for a constitutional office”) or by default be covered by item number 8 (“For any other candidate”), and would need to produce a mere 125 or 50 signatures, respectively, to be included on the primary ballot.

      Weird.

      • Replying to myself… go figure.

        The section of the Code which governs a presidential primary is 24.2-545, and was passed in 1999. The section contains the 10,000 signature requirement, as quoted below:

        “B. Any person seeking the nomination of the national political party for the office of President of the United States, or any group organized in this Commonwealth on behalf of, and with the consent of such person, may file with the State Board petitions signed by at least 10,000 qualified voters, including at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the Commonwealth, who attest that they intend to participate in the primary of the same political party as the candidate for whom the petitions are filed. Such petitions shall be filed with the State Board by the primary filing deadline. The petitions shall be on a form prescribed by the State Board. Such person or group shall file with the petitions a list of the names of persons who would be elected delegates and alternate delegates to the political party’s national convention if the person wins the primary and the party has determined that its delegates will be selected pursuant to the primary. The slate of delegates and alternates shall comply with the rules of the national and state party.”

  11. I wonder what the voting population of Virginia is, and what percentage of that the 10,000 signatures represent.

    Personally, given the quality of current Republican candidates, I wouldn’t miss any of them when it came time to mark the ballot. It’s a shame, because I was hoping for a choice, not a miss of incredible proportions. Not a one of these candidates is appealing to a middle of the road voter. While the extremists currently seem to be ruling, I’m inclined to doubt that anyone not a good deal more moderate, and less doctrinaire overall, than any of the Republican candidates, is likely to win the general election.

    That gives the party another four years to whine and obstruct progress.

  12. While I would question the number of signatures required as related to the population of Republican voters, I think this is very telling of the candidates themselves. Those candidates that failed to even get the minimum signatures would bring about the question of how serious are they about winning this campaign. Did they not want to put in the effort, or did they not get the support to muster 10,000 signatures?
    The other 2 that did not qualify raise more questions. Perry is quick to sue. Is that the type of presidency we could expect from him if elected? Do we really need yet another president who will sue the people and states when he doesn’t get his way?
    Gingrich is just whining and complaining but so far no lawsuit.
    They knew the law ahead of time, they failed to meet the requirements and now they are upset. A president is elected to uphold the laws of the land. If elected what laws will they decide not to enforce? Haven’t we had enough of that already?

    • I think you have a great point. So who do you think you will vote for? The overachieving Romney who might put forth effort or the conspiracy artist Paul?

  13. I am curious to find out how many people leaving comments are Virginians. Virginia is a Commonwealth and has a long history of quirky and strange laws that are different from every other state in the union. You would know that if you lived here.
    Frankly I fail to see the problem here. All the canidates were informed of the qualifications. I dont believe from what I read that the qualifications had recently changed but that someone was checking to be sure that they were been met. So people are merely upset that the rules are being enforced?

    • Kat, I’ve lived in Virginia for the past 34 years; this is the first time this intensity of whining has occurred that I can recall. The nonsense being spouted by some about this process indicates a series of misunderstandings, or an utter blindness to reality and voting, or a tendency to one of the excluded candidates that is stronger than normal. These people knew what was needed, or should have, as you noted. The rules are not new. If a person cannot hire staff capable of caring for such picayune matters, one has to wonder just how “viable” that person is as a Presidential candidate.

      It does seem as if there’s a chance the Republicans may back down off their requirement of a loyalty oath–the the Republican Party–for voters in the primary, but there is no sense at all in changing regulations that have been in place for years when demands aren’t made within the limits specified. I don’t think Virginia taxpayers should be subjected to the costs of, among other things, reprinting ballots or reprogramming machines just because some candidates feel they are too special to follow the rules.

  14. SHAME on those in positions of power in Virginia who are denying the citizens of Virginia the ability to
    vote for candidates who have a legitimate chance to become our next president! The big picture is that
    the GOP of Virginia is thwarting and impeding the democratic process. The big picture is that those established, well funded candidates are able to meet the qualifications, while the ‘outsiders’, those who
    do not have a large organization, are denied a spot on the ballot. YOU can call this ‘playing by the rules’,
    but I call it Corruption! There is too much at stake to sift out all the candidates who are unable to gather 15,000 signatures. With all of the polls across the country, we KNOW who the legitimate candidates are.
    Any state which excludes any of these legitimate presidential nominee contenders is a stain on the principles
    this nation was founded upon.

  15. This is a travesty.

    People spent hours viewing the debates and anticipating voting in the Primaries. Now they, we , are being told that we will not be allowed to vote or to write in a candidates name.

    There is a solution. First, let’s remember that the decision on the Virginia ballots was made before the Iowa Caucus and the New Hamsphire Primary.

    Mitt Romney and Ron Paul can be leaders and part of the solution.

    I would advise them to stand up and support the inclusion of all Republican Party Candidates’ names on the Virginia Ballot——–all of the candidates who stood and debated.

    Malinda
    1984 Virginia National Delegate
    For President Reagan and Vice President Bush
    GOP Dallas Convention

  16. The establishment,corporate media,radio are setting us up for a insider spin-off,between Newt and Romney.Watching corporate news media,they want to see Newt vs Obama.the true continder is RON PAUL,because if we the people don’t see through the smoke screen will pay the price.RON PAUL want’s to audit the federal reserve.Who ever talked that way?

  17. When will this story hit critical mass per se?

    In recent Zogby polls and others approximately 36% of Americans believe ther is more to 911 than the government is telling us….about 50% of New York City residents believe the government knew and failed to act. Isn’t it time to look at this thing as a whole with an unbiased perspective. I personally am not totally convinced of these theories but I will say that I am not convinced of the so called “official story” which I consider a conspiracy “theory” in itself!!

    Oh yea….and I know what you are going to say….I’m a kook ..nut…crazy whatever…we’ll my friends…the truth will come out and the truth does matter!

    • And what on earth does 9/11 have to do with Virginia’s election laws?

      This is a simple matter of a number of people thinking they were so special they didn’t need to follow rules that have been in place for years. Now that these “keep the government out of it” types have found out they are not that special, they’re hiring lawyers to make the government get further into messing with current regulations.

      As for 9/11 and tragedies like JFK’s assassination, there are always screwballs who refuse to believe the evidence of their eyes.

  18. how can we trust them to govern the United States?

    The rules were quite simple; submit 10,000 signatures by the due date. They didn’t meet that regulation, so their names will not appear on the primary ballot.

    What does that say about their ability to manage?

    • It probably says more about their arrogance, their belief that the system will be changed to fit their whims.

  19. Romney might not win in Virginia, at least not if the voters are well informed. Whoever is in favor of Newt or Santorum figures to vote for Ron Paul to ensure Romney doesn’t get Virginia’s delegates.

  20. Is there any polling data out yet giving us a look at a head to head contest between Romney and Paul. I want to know just how anti Romney the anti-Romney vote is

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