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Virginia Politics
Posted at 10:06 AM ET, 01/17/2012

McDonnell and General Assembly lobbied to allow write-ins on presidential ballots

A coalition of tea party leaders and activists are lobbying the General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell to change election law to allow write-in votes on the March 6 presidential primary ballot.

Sen. Frank M. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) introduced a bill last week that would change existing law to allow for write-ins in both primary and general elections.

The groups are asking voters to sign petitions supporting the bill. In
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) (Tracy A. Woodward - THE WASHINGTON POST)
order for the bill to be effective March 6, it would require four-fifths of legislators to approve, which is unlikely to happen. Legislative leaders in both chambers say it’s not a priority.

Only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) qualified for the Virginia ballot.

“With only two choices on the ballot, tea party activists fear, most people simply won't vote on March 6, 2012,’’ according to a news release. “Many tea party leaders do not support either Mitt Romney or Ron Paul for president.”

Charlie Judd, chairman of the State Board of Elections, said there is interest in perhaps changing the law for future elections, but that there is no time for this election.

Ballots have already been printed and absentee voting begins Friday.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is appealing a federal judge’s denial of his request to add his name to Virginia’s Republican presidential primary ballot.

Perry, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. had failed to qualify for the ballot and sued the State Board of Elections and the state GOP.

U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. said Friday that the candidates should have challenged the qualification rules months ago when they realized that Virginia forbids out-of-state residents to collect signatures.

Virginia’s ballot-access rules are considered the toughest in the nation. Candidates must collect 10,000 signatures, with at least 400 from each of the congressional districts; some other states require candidates only to pay fees or sign forms.

By  |  10:06 AM ET, 01/17/2012

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