- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 31, 2011

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II is urging the General Assembly to pass emergency legislation to allow more Republican candidates to qualify for the March 6 GOP presidential primary — the latest salvo in a controversy over ballot access that has erupted in the last week.

All but two GOP contenders, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, failed to gather enough signatures to qualify. The state Board of Elections set the order of the ballot on Wednesday.

“Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in a statement. “Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.”

The proposal, also backed by former state attorneys general Tony Troy and Steve Rosenthal, both Democrats, is expected to say that if the state Board of Elections determines a candidate qualifies for federal matching funds, they can automatically be put on the ballot.


“The ballot access process, as implemented this year, is a legal and constitutional embarrassment,” Mr. Troy said. “Virginians deserve better.”

In order to qualify, candidates had to collect 10,000 signatures statewide and at least 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich failed to turn in enough valid signatures, and GOP contenders Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman didn’t bother to try.

Mr. Perry has taken to federal court in Richmond to plead his case, though a judge on Thursday denied his bid for an emergency order to get his name on the ballot.

He is arguing that the provision requiring signature gatherers to be either eligible or registered voters in the state is unconstitutional.

The campaigns of Ms. Bachmann, Mr. Santorum, Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Gingrich said Saturday that they intend to file a joint motion to intervene in the case. They asked that the state Board of Elections either add them to the ballot or not take action until the judge hears arguments on Jan. 13.

A Northern Virginia lawyer has filed suit in Richmond City Circuit court to get Mr. Gingrich’s name on the ballot, though the lawsuit is not affiliated with the Gingrich campaign.