- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican Party leaders in Virginia will ask the state to cancel a required party affiliation statement for the March 1 GOP presidential primary.

The Virginian-Pilot (bit.ly/1Ss7yqS) reports leaders voted on the issue Saturday. GOP state central committee member Roger Miles says leaders are halting their plans because of “bad publicity.”

At the party’s request, state elections officials were requiring all GOP primary voters to complete a form stating “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican” before being allowed to cast a ballot.

Republican officials had previously said the statement was intended to prevent Democrats from voting in the Republican contest since Virginia does not register voters by party and allows anyone to participate in any primary election.

Supporters of Donald Trump had gone to court to try to block the requirement. Three black pastors who support Trump claimed in a lawsuit that the “loyalty oath” violates their civil and free-speech rights. Earlier this month, however, a judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the plan.

Trump was not involved in the lawsuit, but he has criticized the Virginia GOP’s pledge requirement, arguing that it would drive away new Republican voters.

Virginia Republicans proposed voter pledges for the 2008 and 2012 primaries but dropped them before those elections. In 2000, voters in the GOP presidential primary completed a form stating: “I, the undersigned, state that I do not intend to participate in the nomination process of any party other than the Republican Party.”

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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