Virginia 2011 Independent Candidate for Legislature has Big Impact on 2012 Presidential Primary

There are currently many news stories and blog discussions about the Virginia presidential primary ballot access law. Some large blogs, such as Red State, have over 300 comments about the story. Some defend the current Virginia ballot access laws on the grounds that in past presidential elections, a fairly large number of Republican presidential primary candidates managed to qualify.

But 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, on notarized sheets, and which had at least 400 signatures from each U.S. House district, 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, six Republicans qualified: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson (an earlier version of this post erroneously said Alan Keyes qualified in 2008, but he only qualified in 2000).

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 Democratic Party of Virginia has been opposed to the strict law on primary ballot access, and has been in the habit of collecting signatures for all Democratic presidential candidates recognized by the party. In 2008, the state party collected 7,300 signatures for all its candidates, thus easing the burden on them and requiring them to collect only 4,000 to 5,000 on their own.


Virginia 2011 Independent Candidate for Legislature has Big Impact on 2012 Presidential Primary — 43 Comments

  1. Pingback: Gingrich Doesn’t Make Republican Primary Ballot in Virginia – BusinessWeek |

  2. Pingback: Virginia 2011 Independent Candidate for Legislature has Big Impact on 2012 Presidential Primary |

  3. Hey Raymond – we all know that you are an indy candidate. It’s pretty annoying that you are posting your personal promo on every thread of this website. Demo Rep already has the title of most annoying poster. Don’t think you want to compete with him/her.

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  5. I think we need to be careful about making any suggestion that the Demoncrats are the good guys for ballot access. It was largely Democratic state legislatures between 1880-1980 that introduced and incrementally tightened these restrictions, was it not? In some cases they tightened the screws **so much** that they actually forced the Republicans off the ballot, no? Not to mention all of the third parties that have been forced out of existence because of a century of Demoncrat ballot purging?

    If the Demoncrats now oppose the strict laws on primary ballot access, it is difficult to believe they are doing so for any reason other than their own selfish interests.

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  7. A key point here. The Independent Green Party of Virginia has succeeded in getting on the ballot under even more difficult requirements.

    The state board of elections checks the Indy Green petition signatures. That is is much higher standard than just have members of the party check them.

    The Indy Greens record of petitioning and ballot access success is hard won, year after year.

  8. Pingback: Moe Lane » Did the VA GOP change the rules on primary ballot access in November 2011?

  9. I am afraid, in recent years, the Republican Party has been worse on ballot access than the Democratic Party. Pennsylvania in 2010 was one of only four states with a Dem-Rep ballot monopoly for statewide office, and Republicans, not Democrats, threatened to challenge the minor party statewide Pennsylvania petitions in 2010, so that the minor parties were intimidated into withdrawing, or face fees of over $100,000.

    It was Republican majorities in 2011 in the legislatures of Alabama, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, who passed bills making ballot access substantially worse. Technically the Ohio and Tennessee bills didn’t make the laws worse, but since the old laws in those two states had been held unconstitutional, the effect of passing bills that made only miniscule improvements was negative, not positive.

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  12. From the VA elections board. Everyone was operating under the same set of rules. Some candidates chose not to follow the recommendation of the board, and they are paying for it now.

    “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.”

  13. Pingback: VA GOP Changed Ballot Access Rules Last Month « News « @griffinrc

  14. #13, the Oklahoma legislature moved the petition deadline for new parties from May 1 to March 1. The Alabama legislature moved the petition deadline for new parties from June 5 to March 13, even though in 1991, the 11th circuit had struck down the old April petition deadline for Alabama minor parties.

  15. All that this article has done is anger me that the number of signatures were not taken in previous elections. Thank you for illuminating that fact…

  16. # 4 Annoying depends on the brain of the beholder.

    How many juvenile USELESS moron postings so far by the usual suspects — utopian idiots, spies, etc. ???

    Democracy NOW — even to really annoy IDIOTS.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  17. Pingback: Did the VA GOP change the rules on primary ballot access in November 2011?

  18. At what point does the interest of the state Republican Party trump the right of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice? With the two qualified candidates each polling around 20%, what do the other 60% of Republicans do? It would seem that staying home becomes one of the main choices. Let’s hope that we select someone who will not appeal to only a fractional part of the Republican electorate. We will need motivated voters to defeat a sitting President.

  19. The Pubs in the DC area, right around N. Va., do not seem to think that voters in the rest of Va.,just might want all the feasible Pub candidates on the ballot. They are wrong. It is time for the Stupid Party to stop shooting its wounded. Newt and any Pub candidate should be on the Pub ballot. The rules were stupid in the first place. And only the Stupid Party will kill itself. Dems may be evil but they do not kill their own usually. Change the rules now and put all the Pub candidates: Newt et al. on the ballot. Let choices really be made.

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  36. Here are two relevant links.

    One is an undated letter from Pat Mullins, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia ( in which he stated the guidelines he would follow in carrying out Virginia election law. He wrote:

    “Any candidate who submits at least 15,000 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions statewide and has at least 600 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions from each of the 11 Congressional Districts shall be deemed to have met the threshold for qualification and will be certified (provided, of course, that other requirements of State law have also been met).

    If any candidate submits fewer than 15,000 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions statewide or fewer than 600 signatures of registered voters on valid petitions in one or more of the 11 Congressional Districts, the Republican Party of Virginia will individually verify signatures until the 10,000 signature statewide threshold and/or 400 per Congressional district is met.”

    The other is an article ( quoting Mullins’ description of the course of events:

    “Mullins says that a group of volunteers checked the signatures submitted by the four candidates against a computer database of registered voters. He also says that each of the four campaigns that submitted ballot-access petitions had a representative present when the signatures were being checked and that the media was invited and welcome to attend and observe the petition-checking process.

    Mullins also says that before the signatures were checked he had consulted with the general counsel of the Virginia Republican Party to insure that the party followed a process that was in keeping with what the law required.

    When the petitions had been checked, it turned out that only Romney and Paul satisfied the terms of Virginia’s ballot access law. Gingrich and Perry did not.”

    This seems to indicate that although the rules may have changed from previous years, in which signatures may not have been verified, the rules were applied equally to all four candidates (Romney, Paul, Perry and Gingrich) who submitted signatures in Virginia (i.e., that all four candidates’ sets of signatures were verified). It remains to be seen whether Romney’s and Paul’s sets of signatures were in fact verified, as well as Perry’s and Gingrich’s, as opposed to merely being “deemed” to have met the 10,000 signature requirement under Virginia law because of their having submitted more than 15,000 signatures.

    In any event, in Perry’s lawsuit (see he does not make any equal protection claim arising out of an alleged disparate treatment of him vs. the other candidates. Rather, he claims that the Virginia law itself (the 10,000 requirement, and the requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered voters in the state) unconstitutionally violates his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly.

  37. GOP really screwed up this time! The rules on the number of signatures and validation of voter’s names should NEVER have been changed in November, 2010.
    GOP gets a black eye for confusing the rules with Presidential Primary in Virginia only a few short months away. Very, very bad!!

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