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Monday, January 2, 2012

Virginia GOP Primary Fiasco Update!

Virginia GOP Primary Fiasco Update!

“We still don’t know why Newt Gingrich was kept off the ballot for Virginia’s March 6, 2012, primary election.  That is the central astonishing fact.” - Jonathon Moseley

By Dell Hill & Richard Falknor @ Blue Ridge Forum

Our friend and guest blogger, Richard Falknor, has an update on the Republican primary debacle in Virginia.

“Political Class” Keeps the Reins: AG Pivots on Primary Fix

As we noted last night, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli backed off his call for emergency legislation “expected to state that if the Virginia Board of Elections certifies that a candidate is receiving federal matching funds, or has qualified to receive them, that candidate will upon request be automatically added to the ballot.”

The Republican leadership  of the General Assembly was –not unexpectedly — less than enthusiastic about Mr. Cuccinelli’s proposal.  Readers may find of possibly related interest the announcement last Thursday of Romney supporters in the Virginia General Assembly and among Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) leaders.

Former state senator Cuccinelli said yesterday –

“However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes in time for the 2012 presidential election, my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system.”

Getting “Concerns” Right

Conservatives should certainly commend Mr. Cuccinelli for his Saturday initiative to try to fix the primary mess, but bring him to a better mind on his “concern . . . that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns. . . .”

The overriding concern should be to make real choice available to GOP voters in the March 6 presidential primary — not to give such solicitude to two campaigns that developed expertise in surmounting Virginia’s Rube Goldberg rules here and here and navigating the questionable implementation of these rules confronting serious GOP candidates.  The objective is not to take care of fellow members of the Political Class, but to ensure voters have an opportunity to choose one of the major national candidates in the March 6 GOP Virginia primary.

The 2012 presidential election is a watershed election for America’s future — and certainly in the minds of Virginia conservatives.  Most Virginia conservatives would agree that this election is vastly more important than the image of the Republican Party of Virginia or the advancement of its sachems.

See our posts on the Virginia GOP presidential primary here, here and here.

Jonathon Moseley Writes About His Suit To Put Newt Gingrich on the Ballot

As we wrote last week, Virginia attorney and tea party activist, Jonathon Moseley  “ [F]iled to put Newt Gingrich on the Primary Ballot in Virginia.” The link to this filing (in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond) is here.

Moseley wrote Blue Ridge Forum

“We still don’t know why Newt Gingrich was kept off the ballot for Virginia’s March 6, 2012, primary election.  That is the central astonishing fact.

In a December 28 statement, the Republican Party of Virginia confirmed that it has not yet disclosed the reasons why it disqualified so many of Newt Gingrich’s 11,050 ballot petition signatures against the 10,000 required.  (One of those signatures was mine.)  My lawsuit will first and foremost find out through discovery what happened and why.  The RPV’s statement is what pushed me over the edge to take action.

The public should be told why exactly Virginia Republican voters will only get two choices on March 6, 2012.

However, informal indications tell us that the Republican Party of Virginia reviewed Newt Gingrich’s ballot petitions using the wrong standards:

First, informal talk suggests that one or more petition gatherers weren’t registered to vote in Virginia.  But that is the wrong standard.  

This is the subject of Rick Perry’s lawsuit, which Newt Gingrich has been asked to join.  Perry wants to strike down the requirement that petition circulators be registered to vote.

But it is already the law of Virginia that a circulator need only be eligible to register.  Meanwhile, it is very easy to meet that standard. Any person who is merely eligible to register may collect signatures under Va. Code § 24.2-521.  Moreover, a person can register to vote one day after arriving in Virginia.  So Newt Gingrich’s petitions gathered by someone physically in Virginia could be valid simply because the petition circulator could have registered to vote, even if [he] or she didn’t.  That may not sound logical.  But that is the law under Va. Code § 24.2-521: “the petition shall have been witnessed by a person who is himself a qualified voter, or qualified to register to vote…”

Second, Virginia politicos wrongly believe that a petition signature can be disqualified if the signer’s address is missing, incomplete, or illegible.  However, in November 2010, the State Board of Elections issued a regulation 1 VAC 20-50-20 which clarifies which deficiencies are “material” and which are not material.  The signer’s address has not been designated as a “material” omission.

Furthermore, Va. Code 24.2-545 governing presidential primaries does not mention anything about a signer’s address.  This is in sharp contrast to Va. Code 24.2-521 which governs all other elections.

So even the requirement for an address does not apply to presidential primaries.

Third, Va. Code 24.2-545(B) deputizes the parties as part of the governmental process of Virginia’s State Board of Elections.  When participating in the governmental work of the State Board of Elections, the party ceases to be purely private.

If the Republican Party of Virginia and the State Board of Elections will tell us what happened, we might then be able to figure out if the right standards were followed or not.”

Again, stay tuned for any developing (and still timely) remedies for the Virginia GOP primary mess.

At least — for example– counting write-ins in the March 6 GOP primary?

And how will the RPV and the State Board of Elections deal with the uproar over their “loyalty oath” for the March 6 GOP primary voters?”

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