“First, it is hard to defend the fact that none of the Romney signatures were individually verified, but the Perry and Gingrich signatures were subjected to full scrutiny.”
By Dell Hill & Richard Falknor
There’s really no other way to describe the Virginia GOP primary review process; it was totally flawed and obviously in strong support of Mitt Romney, at the expense of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.
Guest blogger, Richard Falknor @ Blue Ridge Forum, is on the ground in his home state and has the very latest report.
UPDATES! Andrew Cain (Richmond Times-Dispatch) writes January 1 “Cuccinelli reverses stand on primary.” Carl Cameron (Fox News) reported December 31 “Virginia Attorney General Intervenes in GOP Primary Ballot Dispute” – via Moe Lane (RedState).
A 9:00 PM conference call yesterday among Virginia Republican State Central Committee members quickly passed over any suggestion that both governor Rick Perry and Speaker Newt Gingrich be certified for the presidential primary.
Blue Ridge Forum, however, has just received a copy of a first-hand report on the review of the candidates’ petitions to qualify for the presidential primary. This RPV (Republican Party of Virginia) review took place last week in Richmond.
The following selections capture the thrust of the report which is in the hands of several top officials in the state GOP. Yet the text of this report was reportedly not discussed on last night’s conference call. After receiving the report, Forum spoke with its author, and we have, of course, read it in its entirety.
“I was there as a volunteer screener when the petitions were reviewed in Richmond last week. I ask that the RPV leadership and Rules Committee certify both Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich for the presidential primary for the following reasons.
First, it is hard to defend the fact that none of the Romney signatures were individually verified, but the Perry and Gingrich signatures were subjected to full scrutiny. It may be an announced policy but it is hard to defend to the general public. As pointed out below, I suggest that the Romney signatures may not have survived the type of scrutiny given to the other candidates if all petitions had been treated equally.
Second, there was no list of official reasons provided to the volunteer screeners for disallowing a signature. Various volunteers made peculiar and idiosyncratic judgments to disallow signatures.
Several volunteers failed to do a secondary name search if the address search failed. Several volunteers routinely disallowed a signature if it was on a page with a heading from another county, even though the petition itself states that such headings are only advisory. Several volunteers routinely disallowed signatures if the complete name of the voter was not on the signature line. Those of us who are attorneys know that a person m[a]y express his signature in any consistent manner and he/she will be held legally bound by it, whether it is in Korean characters or using initials. Such things are not grounds to disallow signatures. There was no consistency.”
The volunteer screener continued –
“Sixth, there was no lawyer present for the RPV to advise volunteers on questions about signatures and petitions. Questions were answered by computer staff, the public relations person and the RPV secretaries to the best of their ability, but it casts a doubt over the process. There was a phone call to an attorney about the notary requirement during the work on the Perry petitions but that was the only attorney input of which I was aware. The volunteers really needed better advice. I have no idea how many signatures were improperly, recklessly or carelessly disallowed.”
The volunteer concluded –
“Both candidates had enough signatures in the boxes before the inquiry began. I am not asking RPV to invent signatures— just acknowledge real flaws in the review process and certify accordingly.
For the totality of these reasons and for the need for an open real primary, I ask that the RPV revise its initial ruling and certify both Governor Perry and Speaker Gingrich for the presidential primary.”
See our posts on the Virginia GOP presidential primary here and here.