Perry challenges exclusion from Va. ballot

December 27, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging his disqualification from the Virginia presidential primary ballot.

The state Republican Party ruled Friday that Perry had not submitted the 10,000 valid signatures required for eligibility. Among other leading candidates, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) qualified for the March 6 vote; former House speaker Newt Gingrich did not.

Perry’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, contends that the state Republican chairman and members of the State Board of Elections ­violated Perry’s constitutional rights by enforcing state requirements for the gathering of signatures.

The suit maintains that Perry was unable to submit the required number of signatures because of the board’s “requirement that all petition circulators be an eligible or registered qualified voter in Virginia.”

That requirement substantially limits the number of people who could circulate petitions and thus “imposes a severe burden” on Perry’s freedoms of speech and association, the lawsuit argued. It cites the Constitution’s First and 14th amendments.

The lawsuit also challenges on the same grounds requirements regarding the number of signatures and the qualifications for signers.

Perry’s campaign had told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures

The lawsuit asks the court to order the board and party officials to certify Perry for the ballot.

Dave Rexrode, executive director of the state’s Republican Party, and Elections Board Chairman Charles Judd said Tuesday night they had not seen the lawsuit.

Jerry Kilgore, a former state attorney general who serves as Perry’s chairman in Virginia, did not immediately return a phone call.

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