Dec
27
2011

VA AG Ken Cuccinelli calls for primary ballot reform, write-in option.

This just keeps getting better and better for the Virginia GOP, doesn’t it? Via Ballot Access News, first we get the Attorney General for Virginia pointing out that the requirements for ballot access are far too restrictive:

I would throw out for consideration that we should lower our requirements to 100 legitimate signatures per congressional district.

Let’s face it, absent a serious write-in challenge from some other candidate, Virginia won’t be nearly as ‘fought over’ as it should be in the midst of such a wide open nomination contest. Our own laws have reduced our relevance. Sad.

…and suggesting that a write-in ballot is possible. Which, as a lot of people with perhaps vested interests in there not being any more candidates on the ballot would tell you, is: a, impossible; and b, so mind-bogglingly obviously impossible that anybody who suggests that such a thing would be possible would be as dumb as Newt Gingrich.  Of course, some of the people who are most pushing the ‘dumb as Newt Gingrich’ bit are perhaps not entirely clear about Gingrich’s actual position:

“And we hope to launch a write-in campaign. We’re getting an amazing number of people who … believe Virginians ought to have the right to choose and shouldn’t be restricted to two people.”

When a reporter noted that state law prohibits write-in votes in Virginia primaries, Gingrich said: “There’s time for them to change it. If something’s wrong, they ought to fix it.”

Via Virginia Virtucon, and note that the Times-Dispatch article quoted above went into the details about how difficult it would be to change the law in this case.  To summarize: the time limits in place would require emergency legislation and a super-majority in order to get the bill to pass in time… it’d still be a good idea to do it, frankly, but it’d be harder to do it than it looks.  Which point lets me segue to another amusing/annoying aspect of this entire sorry mess.  To wit: it’s amazing just how many people online are suddenly claiming expert knowledge in the arcane field of primary ballot access for one specific, only somewhat important, American state.  Particularly since none of them would have been able to pass a test on the subject prior to – and I’m being charitable, here – December 23rd.  And, honestly: it’s reasonable enough to suggest that, say, my own pre-Christmas inexperience with this level of Virginian state election law might be a factor in whether or not to take my opinions seriously.  It becomes less reasonable to so suggest that when said inexperience is shared by the former Speaker of the House.  It enters “unreasonable” territory – except, perhaps, for the most partisan – when the actual Attorney General of Virginia is equally inexperienced.  Put another way: after a certain level of the difficulty in navigating the system you should probably start looking at the system itself, and not the people who are having the difficulty.

Final note, because it needs to be: the day will likely end (deadline’s at 5 PM, IIRC) with the VA GOP only certifying Romney and Paul for the primary ballot… which is entirely their call to make.  A lot of people are trying to argue that the party’s hands are tied by state law, which is precisely backward: implementation of this particular aspect of state law is controlled by the parties…  as can be seen by the fact that the Virginia GOP is openly waiving requirements of the certification process for Mitt Romney in the first place.  There are people who really, really, really don’t want you to think about the implications of that…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: A note of personal irony? I’m not a Gingrich supporter; I’m a Perry one, and if they had kept Gingrich on the ballot I’d probably have just winced and moved, as they say, on.

PPS: It would be remiss of me to not note that Ken Cuccinelli is going to be running for Governor of Virginia in 2013… which means, against current Lt. Governor Bill Bolling in the primary.  Lt. Gov. Bolling is, of course, Mitt Romney’s Virginia campaign chairman, which is not so much evidence of a conspiracy to make Romney the only person on the ballot (trust me, the VA GOP would prefer this to be Romney/Gingrich; from what I’m hearing, having Paul be the alternative appalls them, too) as it is a warning that this affair may turn into a fight-by-proxy.

6 Comments

  • physics geek says:

    the Virginia GOP is openly waiving requirements of the certification process for Mitt Romney in the first place

    Anyone surprised by this has not lived in Virginia for any length of time. I say this as someone unhappily represented by Eric claims-to-be-new-blood-but-spent-last-20-years-in-elected-office-at-some-level Cantor.

  • Catseye says:

    Annnd Perry is first out of the with a lawsuit. Ace has a link but apparently the site is being overwhelmed.

  • Skip says:

    Just read the Perry suit, he’s challenging the requirement that the petition circulators have to be registered voters eligible to vote for the candidate. He uses a 1999 SCOTUS case, Buckley v. ACLF, which I just skimmed, and it’s pretty clearly on point. The only question I’d have is whether he can justify the remedy of being on the ballot at all – I could see a judge ruling that the restrictions are invalid, but the remedy is to relax them going forward, ie, that he needed to have sued before now.

  • MikeCG says:

    @Skip: It’s still worth a shot, and even a ruling that only applies to future candidates helps Perry to argue to voters in other states that his VA campaign just got screwed over by an improper law, as opposed to being screwed over by their own incompetence, which is the narrative the Romney people will be pushing aggressively. As the current frontrunner, Gingrich has more of an argument for an exception being made on his behalf, or for pushing for emergency reform legislation to allow a write-in campaign. Perry: not so much. If their positions were reversed, I think we’d see perry talking about a write-in campaign and Gingrich suing.

  • DaveP. says:

    Bainbridge over at Legal Insurrection thinks Perry’s suit isn’t going to fly; I think it might even if it is weak because judges have historically taken a fairly permissive view on ballot access suits.
    For the Virginia GOP the damage is done, though: win lose or draw, I can’t think of a better way to convince the Virginia Tea Parties that there can be no truce with kings.

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