Saturday, December 24, 2011

An explanation of the Virginia Republican Presidential Primary Election

Thank you, Bosman, for allowing me a voice here on Rightspeak. This is my first post. However, as the regulars here may note, I have had one other writing posted here. Noelle helped me out with that.

This post is nearly a cross post from my own blog. But it was quite raw as the information was still being researched.

There was some discussion and confusion regarding the rules regarding a candidate's ability to qualify for and receive votes in the Virginia Republican Primary Election for 2012. One of the biggest bombshells is that there is no write-in candidate allowed. As such, this would eliminate all but Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as candidates for Virginia's 49 delegates. This sounded too incredible to be true. I embarked on a journey.

I started my search with google trying to find a phrase similar to what I had seen, "VA Primary election no write-in". I first found the information about the above rumor as posted in comment sections related to articles about Newt's failure to make the ballot. I could not find that specific language in any article specifically or anywhere else, but only in comment sections.

After broadening my search, I came upon another document regarding write-in candidates. According to VA's laws, the definition of a candidate includes write-in candidates. This is specified in a document detailing that write-in candidates must also submit financial disclosure forms if they wish to remain a candidate and viable for office.

I then found the Deadlines, Duties and Ballot Access Requirements for the Presidential Primary Election pdf document. I could find no language in that document regarding write-in candidates. It just did not state whether or not it is possible. The closest thing which might indicate that a write-in is not allowed is this line:
Candidates wishing to participate in the presidential primary must follow the procedures outlined below.

Since the definition of candidate includes write-in candidates, does that mean they must be ballot qualified to "participate" and, as such, a write-in nullifies their opportunity, because by logical definition, a write-in failed to be ballot qualified? Ambiguous at best.

A little after I posted this on my own blog, the fine chat members over at MRC notified me of this page: §24.2-644.C, which states:
At all elections except primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person's name on the official ballot. (emphasis added)

Another report stated that Newt Gingrich was going to try and mount a write-in campaign. As seen above, Newt fails at understanding the rules in his home state. This is understandable, as he has been a public employee or serving the representatives at a federal level. The same report states that Rick Perry may mount a challenge to the ruling. He has until Dec 27th to do so (see below).

I did find some other tidbits of information. While the rule is 10,000 total signatures with at least 400 signatories from each Congressional district, they suggest between 15,000 - 20,000 signatures, with 700 signatories from each district.

VA is an open voting state, but a primary voter must only participate in one primary. This applies to signatures as well. A registered voter from an opposing party may sign a candidate's ballot petition as long as they state they plan to participate in the Republican primary and not in any other party's primary. (Not difficult in an incumbent year.)

There is NO filing fee to get on the ballot. (Thus the need for signatories.)

Finally, the State Chairs have until close of business on Tuesday, the 27th, to certify the candidates who will appear on the ballot. The next day a drawing will be held to determine the order of placement of candidates' name. It looks like the ballot will either be
  • Ron Paul
  • Mitt Romney
  • Mitt Romney
  • Ron Paul

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BOSMAN said...

Welcome to Right Speak Mac.

Great Post. As you are, I'm a little confused as well.

It seems to me, that if someone goes through the process of tryinging to get on a ballot and "FAILS", by then mounting a write-in candidacy, they are showing a disregard for the law.

In the same token, if someone HAD NOT tried to qualify, it appears they may have more of a standing, because they DID NOT try to qualify.

I know it sounds a little nuts, but is this possible?

Machtyn said...

I think I actually like the system. More stringent rules in the primaries. There is nothing stopping the losers from running 3rd party. Murkowski successfully pulled this off in AK.

On a local level, this happens quite frequently in smaller towns I think. I had a friend who found out his father had been elected mayor of his small SD town. He was the high school janitor. He didn't run and he received 3 votes. None of those 3 votes were his own.

Kim said...

What a crazy law.

I still can't figure out if anyone can write-in someone's name on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

The reason for the craziness is the subject of many lawsuits over the past decade. While states and individuals want open primaries, neither party does for the simple reason that in a year such as 2012, the incumbent party could easily flood the opposition with votes for the weakest candidate, most unelectable, or even one of their own. The courts have said that the parties can choose their own candidates (primary), so it makes sense to not allow a candidate that has not met the party rules. In a general, the party's candidates are set so those concerns don't apply.

Machtyn said...

Kim: by legal interpretation, in the primaries there can be no write in. In the general election, anyone can be written in.
(disclaimer: IANAL = I am not a lawyer)

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