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There are two ballot access bills that will be before the General Assembly and they will be heard in their respective committees or subcommittees this coming week.

First up is Senator Edwards’ bill to reduce the signatures from 10,000 to 5000 for statewide hopefuls.  It will be heard Monday January 19 at about 2 pm in the East Conference Room on the fourth floor of the General Assembly Building.  (It is thirty minutes after session is over which is estimated about 2 pm.  I’d be there early if you are going.)

Here’s the committee info for those who want to write the senators and urge them to pass this bill.


Senate Privileges and Elections
Sub-Committee: Campaigns


Carrico (Chairman), Martin, Obenshain, McEachin, Smith, Alexander

So why vote yes on this?  Because it is a small step toward equal and fair treatment for new political parties. The Constitution ensures that new political parties have a right to start and grow and undue burdens on those new parties is unconstitutional.

It is expensive and time-consuming to ensure that a candidate can get 10,000 signatures (and 400 from each Congressional district) from ordinary Virginians.  Most people seeking it hire people to circulate the petitions.  And there can be an issue:  Who paid?  Remember the so-called Obama bundler who helped pay [I am not sure this is even true] to get Sarvis on the ballot?)  Besides the presidential candidates in both parties only have to now have 5000 signatures to make the primary ballot.  This is to protect the Commonwealth from the embarrassment of having only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot in 2012.  And the petition rules ARE intimidating.

The second bill is Delegate Rasoul’s bill that would change the percentage of vote in a statewide election from 10% to four percent.  This bill is slated to be us at 730am (that’s right AM) on Thursday, January 22.  Here’s the details:


House Privileges and Elections
Sub-Committee: Elections


Ransone (Chairman), Landes, Minchew, Fowler, Sickles, Futrell, Cole


Thursday, 7:30 a.m., 8th Floor West Conference Room

Why this?  To make Virginia less of an outlier among the states and to ensure that we do not violate what I stated above about the constitutional right of new parties to form and grow.

For example:  The states surrounding the Old Dominion have these rules to avoid petitioning:

NC: 2% for President or Governor

TN: 5% for any statewide office

KY: 2% for President

WV: 1% for Governor

MD: 1% for President or Governor

How about states of similar size to Virginia?  Indiana (2% for the Secretary of State’s office) or NC (stated above) or Missouri (2% of any statewide office in either of the last two elections)

Any states with equal or higher percentage?  Yes.  Oklahoma has 10% for President or Governor, NJ has the same for the total vote in the lower house of the legislature, and Alabama is the winner (or perhaps loser) with a whopping 20%!  No wonder Sen. Jeff Sessions was unopposed!

And that makes the point:  If restrictive ballot access laws hinder who we can vote for – the vote is not worth very much.  And people fought and died for the right to vote.

I plan Lord willing to be at both meetings.  I might even be asked to speak.  I suggest my readers of all political persuasion show up and indicate your support for both these bills.

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  I am sorry I left this out – all my stats on other states came from Richard Winger at Ballot Access News.  Here’s his site.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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