This post has been updated.
A federal judge denied a request Friday to add four presidential candidates to Virginia’s Republican primary ballot.
U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. indicated he thought a provision requiring candidates to only use state residents to gather signatures was unconstitutional, but none of the candidates had collected the required 10,000 regardless.
State officials told him Friday that they did not have time to print and mail absentee ballots by Jan. 21 in order to get them out 45 days before the primary as required by federal law.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman failed to qualify for the Virginia ballot, and filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Elections and the state GOP to challenge the qualification rules.
Only former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) qualified .
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.
Virginia, an increasingly important swing state, will hold its presidential primary on Super Tuesday, March 6.