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Radtke asks how redistricting might affect ballot petitions

Tea party activist Jamie Radtke, a candidate for the Republican nomination for this year’s U.S. Senate race, has raised an interesting question about the petitions candidates must file to get on the ballot.

The law requires candidates to get signatures of 10,000 eligible voters, including 400 voters from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

But the General Assembly has not yet finished redrawing the congressional district lines (something already the subject of one lawsuit). In a press release and a letter to House Speaker Bill Howell and Sen. Tommy Norment on Friday, Radtke questioned whether candidates would wind up having to get signatures twice, once in the old districts and once in the new ones (if they’re redrawn before the primary).

Radtke said that according to a State Board of Elections candidate bulletin, if the legislature redraws the lines during the petition-gathering process, the signatures would have to come from the new districts — even though the window for gathering signatures is open now, in the old districts. It’s not likely the legislature would finish redistricting until near the end of the petition-gathering period.

If the General Assembly doesn’t finish redistricting in a “timely manner,” the primary date might have to be moved — invalidating any signatures gathered for the currently-scheduled June 12 primary.

Radtke asked Norment and Howell for legislation to clarify the matter, and Howell said Friday that he has asked the state’s legislative services to look into it.

“She makes a good point,” Howell said. “It seems to me it’s easy enough to pass legislation that simply says that for the purposes of this primary, the old existing districts are the one that you count for the 400 signatures per district. If it’s indeed a problem we can fix it.”