Theodore's World: Virginia GOP Hand Picks Candidates For Voters ~ Why Are They NOT Checking Signatures Of Romney and Ron Paul ~ Hmmmm Cheat Much??!!

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December 27, 2011

Virginia GOP Hand Picks Candidates For Voters ~ Why Are They NOT Checking Signatures Of Romney and Ron Paul ~ Hmmmm Cheat Much??!!

Did the VA GOP change the rules on primary ballot access in November 2011?

by Moe Lane

The VA GOP only certified Mitt Romney and Ron Paul for its primary ballot. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich both had too many signatures tossed; Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann didn’t even try. Of the seven candidates, one (Romney) had more than enough signatures (15K) to bypass the verification process entirely. All of this has caused a lot of agitation among Republicans following the primary process, of course; and not just from people who disapprove of what the VA GOP has done. There has been a good deal of defending of the outcome; and one argument heavily used in this defense has been that the campaigns all knew the rules and that previous Republican campaigns were able to get on the ballot, so clearly a competent current Republican campaign should have done so.

One small problem with that: as Winger argues, the rules were allegedly drastically changed. In November of this year.

Winger’s article is too long to reproduce here, so I’ll summarize it: prior to the 2012 elections it was Republican party policy in Virginia to simply deem any candidate that brought in ten thousand raw signatures as having met the primary ballot requirements under Virginian state election law. So, for example, Alan Keyes (a popular negative example for people making the ‘any competent campaign’ argument) apparently did not actually have his petitions checked in 2000 and 2008; absent going back and looking at the paperwork (assuming that it even still exists), there’s no way to tell whether he would have survived the scrutiny of 2012. And that’s true of every other candidate who has appeared on the primary ballot in Virginia. None of them qualify for an apples-to-apples comparison – and this remains true no matter how many signatures were collected. If you know that your signatures will not be checked if you get above 10K, you are simply operating in a fundamentally different environment than one where you know that your signatures will be checked

So what happened? Osborne v. Boyles. On October 24th independent state delegate candidate Michael Osborne filed suit against the Republican party of Virginia (specifically, Fifth District GOP Chairman Brandon Boyles) because of this policy: as the article notes, “the law simply requires that party-affiliated candidates present their petitions to the local party chairman – in this case Boyles – who is responsible for reviewing the petition signatures on their own. It does not dictate how thorough this review must be or give state officials any power to challenge it.” The case is still pending – interestingly, the election that this lawsuit was ostensibly addressing has come and gone – but according to Winger the VA GOP decided in response to bump up from 10K to 15K the threshold for simply deeming the requirements as being met. The complications of it being the day after Christmas makes final confirmation of all of this difficult, but Osborne v. Boyles is an actual case and Richard Winger is one of the go-to guys on the arcane subject of ballot access: what I can check out about this story I have checked out.

As for the implications… well, I think that John Fund’s general comment is correct: this is going to go to the courts. John was not discussing this specific wrinkle, but his larger point that Virginia’s ballot access policies have systemic problems gets a big boost when it turns out that the state party can effectively increase by fifty percent the practical threshold for ballot access – in a day, and in the middle of an existing campaign. The VA GOP still retains ultimate control over who gets on the ballot, of course. But then, they always have – and under the current system they could in fact brazen it out and certify Gingrich and Perry anyway. Of course, that would probably mean another lawsuit anyway; but then, there really isn’t a path out of here that doesn’t involve lawsuits.

But that’s a matter for the courts and the party leadership. On the activist level; as noted above, there has been a certain argument used to defend the VA GOP. It’s an argument that accuses two Presidential campaigns of being ignorant of conditions on the ground… and it turns out that the people using that argument may themselves be guilty of being ignorant of conditions on the ground. If it is true that the Republican party of Virginia decided in November of 2011 to increase the threshold for automatic certification from 10K to 15K, then it is reasonable to suggest that this was a change that unfairly rewarded candidates who had previously run for President in Virginia. Even if you dispute that, if this story checks out then it is still completely unreasonable to compare the Gingrich/Perry campaigns to any historical Presidential campaign in Virginia: if this was 2008 or 2000, they’d both be on the ballot themselves and the subject wouldn’t have even come up. And anyone who still tries to use that argument needs to understand that doing so simply makes them look foolish, instead of the Presidential campaigns that they’re pretty much trying to assault. Put another way… I know that this statement will grate on some people, but here goes: there are some defenders of the VA GOP decision out there who need to start apologizing for their, ah, over-enthusiasm. Whether or not they think that it’s fair, or whether anybody’s apologizing to them, or really anything else.

Because… karma. It’s what’s for dinner


Big Government blog

It 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 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, seven Republicans qualified: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Alan Keyes.
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.

And then there’s this:

The VA GOP published a letter that announced that any candidate who submitted a petition with more than 15,000 signatures would not be checked (’shall be deemed to have met the threshold for qualification and will be certified’).


Wild Thing's comment......

Beyond disgusting. If it is so important to check each signature then it should be the same across the board and not only the certain ones. That alone tells me this stinks.

The VA GOP is matching the kind of cheating we have seen with ACORN, what is next a Mickey Mouse will vote for Romney or Ron Paul and that is ok with them??

Posted by Wild Thing at December 27, 2011 01:50 AM


Two reasons they're not checking the signatures on Romney and Paul.

1. The RNC wants Romney and Virginia is kowtowing to the RNC

2. Virginia is scared the Paulbots will overrun their phone lines and servers.

Posted by: BobF at December 27, 2011 07:28 AM

The average responsible and concerned American citizen does not have much influence on our federal govt anymore. Elite cliques run our political machine. Fraud is rampant in politics. We seem to be offered only generic, narcissistic, bought and paid for candidates. No matter who we vote for, govt. continues to grow and our individual freedoms continue to be eroded. The greatness that America became in the 20th Century seems to be squandered as we devalue our currency through govt. debt and send our jobs overseas to escape high taxes.

It's very discouraging.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at December 27, 2011 01:42 PM

Bob, thank you, your right and thanks for pointing that out.

Posted by: Wild Thing at December 28, 2011 04:25 AM

Tom,gosh that is so true. More and more we citizens do not have a voice.

Posted by: Wild Thing at December 28, 2011 04:26 AM

Cheat plenty! But Ron Paul has been around this track and got there early with more than 160% of requirements and then had people sitting in the offices while the signatures were validated weeks ago. It does make Perry's and Gingrich's 113% and 116% respectively of legal requirements on the last day seem half hearted but when a state requires signatures from nearly 10% of the voters there is nothing honest about the ballot.
You did know that they did not check McCain's signature's four years ago.

Posted by: Avitar at December 29, 2011 05:54 AM