Rick Perry lawsuit moves forward, Virginia ballots delayed

2012 Rick Perry Virginia lawsuit, 2

Rick Perry lawsuit moves forward, Virginia ballots delayed

Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s legal team won an early round in Virginia courts Monday. Federal judge John A. Gibney ordered all of Virginia’s local electoral boards to hold off on mailing out absentee ballots.

In a conference call, Judge Gibney ordered the Virginia State Board of Elections to send a directive to each local board to refrain from mailing out any absentee ballots until after a January 13 hearing on the temporary restraining order and injunction moved by the Perry campaign. Perry’s campaign is suing Virginia Board of Elections members Charles Judd, Kimberly Bowers and Don Palmer over Virginia’ rules restricting access to the presidential ballot for candidates.

As previously written, at issue are the Virginia rules, the most burdensome in the nation, that

  • Any presidential candidate, even a major-party candidate, who wants to appear on the ballot in the March 6 primary must gather 10,000 signatures of registered voters
  • At least 400 signatures must come from each of the 11 congressional districts
  • The signatures can be gathered only by people who themselves live in Virginia

The rules do not allow write-in candidates, in the primary elections. Be it noted also that the Board of Elections rules recognize only the Democratic and the Republican parties. Thus the 10,000/400 signature-gathering rules do not have the rationale of leveling the playing field for smaller parties or for nonaffiliated candidates.

Defendants Judd, Bowers and Palmer are appealing the January 9 order. They are joined by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Solicitor General of Virginia E. Duncan Getchell, Deputy Attorney General Wesley Russell, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Joshua Lief.

Perhaps the rules should have been vetted with this kind of firepower before they were instituted.

Gov. Perry, Repubs gain ACLU support

On the plaintiffs’ side, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed for permission to file an amicusbrief.

The ACLU position:

“The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the petition process is political speech that is protected by the Constitution and that the state can’t impose residential requirements on such speech,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis.

“Petition circulators must explain their candidate’s positions to the electorate, and persuade voters that the candidate deserves to be on the ballot,” added Willis.  “Reducing the number of available petition circulators by imposing a residency requirement limits this important means for candidates to get their message across.”

The ACLU brief argues that the residency requirement not only violates the free speech rights of candidates, but of petition circulators, voters, and political parties, as well.

“Non-residents who wish to circulate petitions for a candidate are deprived of the ability to do so,” said Willis.  “Voters are deprived of the information and ideas that these circulators would provide.  And the Republican Party is unfairly limited in its choices for a nominee when valid candidates are unable to obtain the required signatures.”

Perry’s lawsuit is joined by Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum. Michele Bachmann also joined in before dropping out of the race following the Iowa caucuses.

[update]

Local readers of the Washington Post have to find information about Perry’s Virginia lawsuit elsewhere. The print edition received in my county contained no mention of it this morning, although the online edition has two short AP items.

The edition of the paper going out to Prince George’s county must run off before midnight. The day after the Saints won the wild-card playoff against the Lions, bizarrely the WashPost sports section contained no mention of the Saints or of the game.

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