Deconstructing Virginia’s Primary Ballot Fiasco


The Disappearing Candidates:  This year’s Republican Presidential Primary has opened the proverbial can of worms in Virginia.  Two prominent candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, did not qualify to get on Virginia’s Republican primary ballot.  Many voters in Virginia are upset that they will not have the chance to consider Gingrich and Perry despite the fact that these two candidates are on virtually every other primary ballot in the country (Gingrich in Missouri may be another exception).  Virginia’s voters understandably wonder why this has happened in the Old Dominion.

A small bit of digging reveals that Virginia has America’s most onerous rules for getting on a presidential primary ballot.  Not only do the candidates have to acquire 10,000 validated signatures they also need a quota of signatures from each congressional district in the state.  By comparison, the next most onerous rules belong to Indiana which requires only 4,500 signatures.

Notice how my fingers never leave my hand.  There has been something of a backlash from both conservatives and liberals against this seeming incongruity in Virginia’s election laws.  Over at Black Velvet Bruce Li, conservative blogger Greg Letiecq wonders why there are only two candidates on the Republican primary ballot.  Meanwhile, at Blue Virginia, the spotlight is turned on to some questionable actions by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling in this mess.

The reaction of our elected officials in Richmond has been more bizarre than usual (which is saying something).  Democratic State Senator Chap Petersen flip-flops in a recent blog post but ultimately concludes that, “Either way, the system is legitimate and weeds out the un-serious candidates.”  Del.Jackson Miller has taken to the comment sections of local blogs to add his support of the process citing numerous candidates from the past who have gotten on the ballot. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli first sought to overturn the ruling but then decided to accept it.  One imagines that John Kerry is sitting somewhere thinking of Ken Cuccinelli and smiling.

The question that seems to be universally missed is why we have this odd, outlier of a process in the first place. Why is Virginia, by leaps and bounds, the most difficult state on which to join a primary ballot?

How much is that Romney in the window?  The answer, as usual, comes from the willingness of our state legislature and other so-called elites in Richmond to sell out the citizens of Virginia in the furtherance of their personal political ambitions.

The primary season is a time where there is a new front-runner almost every day, leading candidates drop out when their libidos are proven to outweigh their common sense and money is “here today, gone tomorrow.”  Against this backdrop, a candidate facing an onerous state process must decide whether to establish his or her own organization in that state or go “hat in hand” to the establishment politicians and ask for help.  Virginia’s absurdly difficult primary ballot process is designed to send national politicians to Richmond to grovel for organizational support in getting on the ballot.  The kingmakers in Richmond are only too happy to sell out their constituents’ right to choose in order to further their personal political careers with politicians who just might become the next President of the United States.  The only cost is the right of Virginia voters to chose their own candidate for president.  And, in the minds of Richmond’s elite, that is a small cost indeed.

The new ambassador to North Korea.  One day in the future, a formerly prominent Virginia state politician will have lost a major election or timed out on a term limit.  That politician will be on the outside looking in.  Yet, lo and behold, that same pol will end up being appointed as an ambassador to some far off land or under secretary of some obscure federal department.  Who knows, he may even end up as the chairman of the national party or the candidate for Vice President of the United States.

And all it cost was your right to choose who you want to be on the ballot for President of the United States.

Is Area 51 in Virginia?  Am I a conspiracy theorist?  Is there some innocent explanation as to why Virginia is an outlier in the matter of primary balloting? Perhaps.  However, I have yet to hear a single member of our “ruling class” explain the benefits of being an outlier to the citizens of Virginia. But, if one of our “masters” in Richmond cares to comment, I’d also like to better understand the prohibition against write-in votes and the loyalty oath.

– DJ Rippert.

2 Responses to Deconstructing Virginia’s Primary Ballot Fiasco

  1. A few thoughts;

    -They had a whole year to collect the signatures.

    -Minor party candidates are on the Presidential Ballot every 4-years and they will be again this year (see above).

    -VA’s rules are tough but fair (sort of) since the requirement is the same for R’s, D’s, and I’s. In Texas, an Independent candidate for statewide office must collect 25,000 signatures from registered Independent voters (the last time I looked). Plus a bunch of other stipulations.

    -The real question of how fair or unfair ballot access is can be summed up by simply looking at how hard it is for an Independent to get on the ballot. If you are in a state that has elected Judges, good luck. They are partial to their own party and will throw out signed petitions for the most ridiculous reasons…ask any Independent from New York State. VA doesn’t make it any easier for R’s or D’s than it does for anyone else – technically. And, VA doesn’t have elected Judges – be thankful.

    -The rules that are in place in VA are designed to benefit two groups – R’s & D’s. How? Without a sizable campaign staff, i.e., people who are paid full time, the requirements are daunting. You will probably run out of time or money before you ever get the 10,000 signatures. That’s really the unwritten consequence of the VA requirement and it’s done that way on purpose, IMO.

    -”….comes from the willingness of our state legislature and other so-called elites in Richmond to sell out the citizens of Virginia in the furtherance of their personal political ambitions.”

    100% correct.

  2. Virginia wants the ruling class to call the shots… in all matters electoral.

    imagine what would happen if Va’s “rule” applied to counties and each elected had to collect signatures from each precinct… just to get on the ballot….

    and Va won’t let voters initiate a referenda or recall no matter how many signatures they collect.

    You have the ruling elite who control elections and the Dillon rule to control governance…

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