Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Perry’s ballot lawsuit to be heard Jan. 13
A federal judge today set a Jan. 13 hearing date for Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s lawsuit against Virginia’s ballot laws.
Judge John Gibney Jr. will hear Perry’s request for a preliminary injunction on that date.
Perry filed suit in Richmond this week after failing to qualify for Virginia’s presidential primary in March. State law requires candidates to get at least 10,000 eligible Virginia voters to sign petitions, with 400 of those voters coming from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.
Court documents say that Perry filed around 6,000 signatures.
His suit complains that Virginia’s requirement that petition gatherers be qualified voters in Virginia is too stringent and is a violation of his 1st and 14th amendment freedoms of speech and free association. Perry argues that Virginia’s residency requirements limited the number of eligible petition-circulators, and that he was prevented from circulating petitions himself, or recruiting petition-circulators from out-of-state.
“Because of the overly burdensome and unconstitutional requirements of § 24.2-545, Plaintiff was unable to obtain a sufficient number of signatures from qualified voters to qualify for the Republican Party presidential primary ballot in Virginia,” says a document filed by the Perry camp this week. “The state-residency requirement is particularly burdensome as applied to Plaintiff because it prevents him from personally soliciting signatures for his own candidacy. Foreclosing even a single circulator, as was the case here, can mean the difference between success and failure in obtaining the required number of signatures.”
Only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney qualified for the ballot — Perry and Newt Gingrich did not submit enough valid signatures, according to the Republican Party of Virginia.
Perry is arguing that the signature requirements are unconstitutional. He wants the court to force the state GOP and Board of Elections to add him to the ballot, but time is of the essence — the primary is March 6, and ballots are printed just a few days after the Jan. 13 hearing.