- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday challenging the state of Virginia’s ballot access rules that left him off of the March 6 presidential primary ballot in the state.

The lawsuit, brought against members of the State Board of Elections and Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins, challenges the constitutionality of Virginia’s ballot access law, which requires all petition gatherers to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state.

He is also challenging state requirements that to qualify for the ballot candidates must collect 10,000 signatures, a figure that includes 400 signatures from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond.

Gov. Perry greatly respects the citizens and history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and believes Virginia Republicans should have greater access to vote for one of the several candidates for president of the United States,” spokesman Ray Sullivan said.

The lawsuit charges that the provisions violate Mr. Perry’s freedoms of speech and association under the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and asks for a declaratory judgment that the requirements are unconstitutional as well as injunctions preventing the defendants and any successors from enforcing it. It also seeks to compel Mr. Perry’s certification as a candidate on the ballot, as well as “reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.”

Mr. Perry turned in 11,911 signatures and Mr. Gingrich submitted 11,050 signatures, according to the state Board of Elections, but the state party determined that both men failed to amass enough valid signatures to qualify.

GOP candidates Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum did not turn in their petitions and signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline on Dec. 22. They are not named in the lawsuit.