Texas Gov. Rick Perry yesterday filed suit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia challenging the constitutional validity of the Virginia statute which regulates access to the ballot by presidential candidates and limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice. To review the filing, please click here.

Virginia’s ballot access requirements are among the most onerous in the nation and severely restrict who may obtain petition signatures.

“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,” said Perry campaign communications director Ray Sullivan.

“Virginia ballot access rules are among the most onerous and are particularly problematic in a multi-candidate election. We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified to provide greater ballot access to Virginia voters and the candidates seeking to earn their support.”

In 2008, 119,034 Virginians voted in the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary election. The requirement that several national candidates each obtain 10,000 individual qualified voter’s signatures is unrealistic and onerous. Both voters and candidates have 1st and 14th Amendment rights to meaningfully participate in the political process.

Provisions very similar to Virginia’s prohibition on out-of-state petition circulators have been struck down in the 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th United States Circuits, relying on Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, 525 US 182 (1999). Also, ballot access requirements for unrealistic numbers of signatures was held unconstitutional in Rockefeller v. Powers, 78 F.3d 44 (2nd Cir. 1999).

The Virginia Republican Party may inform the Virginia Board of Election which candidates it seeks to have on the ballot despite the statutory ballot access requirements. Gov. Perry’s suit seeks to have the Virginia statue held unconstitutional and requests the Party to have him listed on the Republican primary ballot.

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