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Virginia May Have Improperly Excluded Signatures from Perry, Gingrich. A Recount May Be Needed!

I’m no attorney but I do know how to find and read the laws of Virginia.

Various reports have stated that the signatures turned in by Newt Gingrich included at least 2,000 that were invalidated because there was no address given with the signature.

If this were a Virginia Statewide office, that would be correct. But this is a Presidential Primary. And while the rules are similar, they are actually addressed in two separate sections of the Virginia Code.

There is a requirement in a Statewide General Election that the address be included, but there is no such requirement for a presidential primary. The number of signatures are the same, 10,000 and 400 per Congressional District. But the address requirements are different.

Requirements for State Office are detailed in § 24.2-506. Petition of qualified voters required; number of signatures required; certain towns excepted.

The name of any candidate for any office, other than a party nominee, shall not be printed upon any official ballots provided for the election unless he shall file along with his declaration of candidacy a petition therefor, on a form prescribed by the State Board, signed by the number of qualified voters specified below after January 1 of the year in which the election is held and listing the residence address of each such voter. Each signature on the petition shall have been witnessed by a person who is himself a qualified voter, or qualified to register to vote, for the office for which he is circulating the petition and whose affidavit to that effect appears on each page of the petition.

Each voter signing the petition may provide on the petition the last four digits of his social security number, if any; however, noncompliance with this requirement shall not be cause to invalidate the voter’s signature on the petition.

The minimum number of signatures of qualified voters required for candidate petitions shall be as follows:

1. For a candidate for the United States Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General, 10,000 signatures, including the signatures of at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the Commonwealth;

But that is the code for state elections. The section goes on to list the requirements for other state and local offices. But note the requirements that I have underlined in bold. If you run for state office or local office, an address is specifically required.

However, the section of Virginia Code dealing with Presidential Primaries is § 24.2-545. Presidential primary.

B. Any person seeking the nomination of the national political party for the office of President of the United States, or any group organized in this Commonwealth on behalf of, and with the consent of such person, may file with the State Board petitions signed by at least 10,000 qualified voters, including at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the Commonwealth, who attest that they intend to participate in the primary of the same political party as the candidate for whom the petitions are filed. Such petitions shall be filed with the State Board by the primary filing deadline. The petitions shall be on a form prescribed by the State Board and shall be sealed in one or more containers to which is attached a written statement giving the name of the presidential candidate and the number of signatures on the petitions contained in the containers. Such person or group shall also attach a list of the names of persons who would be elected delegates and alternate delegates to the political party’s national convention if the person wins the primary and the party has determined that its delegates will be selected pursuant to the primary. The slate of delegates and alternates shall comply with the rules of the national and state party.

As you can see, the address requirement does not appear in this section as it does in the section dealing with state and local elections.

As I stated, I am no attorney, but if I were Gingrich or Perry, I would request that the signatures excluded because they lacked an address be reinstated and a new count be taken. If there were 2,000 signatures excluded from Gingrich petition, that may be enough to include him in the primary.

I have searched the code and can find no section that would specifically alter the requirements in the Virginia Code to require an address for a Presidential Primary.

Unless I am missing something here, which I am sure is possible, this may be a Merry Christmas for Newt after all!

Hopefully, some attorney has already read the law and can explain why a missing address is a valid reason to disqualify a candidate from a Virginia Primary. I would sure like to hear it!

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

40 Responses to “Virginia May Have Improperly Excluded Signatures from Perry, Gingrich. A Recount May Be Needed!”

  1. J.R. Hoeft says:

    It says that the signatures will be collected in the manner that the state prescribes. That manner is on the petition itself (which requires the address) and the portion of code you previously stated. But I'm not an election attorney.

    • Tom White says:

      Actually, the law states "The petitions shall be on a form prescribed by the State Board" To me, "prescribed" refers only to the form, not the law. One would assume that the form would reflect the law, but that may not be the case. The forms also have a place for SS#, but that is not required either. You MAY put the last 4 digits,

      "Each voter signing the petition may provide on the petition the last four digits of his social security number, if any; however, noncompliance with this requirement shall not be cause to invalidate the voter's signature on the petition."

      Clearly, this is something that could be argued in court. With no requirement for address and no requirement for SS#, how does one verify the voting status and residency status? Was the intent of the law simply to take the word of the person signing the it in a Presidential Primary? Clearly, name and address is required for state elections, so checking is enabled by law. A valid argument could be made that the intent for a primary was to simply take the person's word. Who knows?

      • J.R. Hoeft says:

        Great, so let's gird our loins and lawyer up. That'll make us all think more positively of Gingrich and Perry and their inept campaigns.

  2. virginiaconservative says:

    Yes, the petitions were quite clear that they needed the addresses of those who signed. It seems to me that the Gingrich campaign wasn't serious about collecting the petitions until mere days and weeks prior to their due date. With such a haphazardly organized campaign, do you really think he has much of chance of winning either the primary or the general election?
    My recent post Reflections on the Straw Poll

    • Tom White says:

      My concern here is not with who can win, just who is included in the primary. And that all those who qualify under the law be listed. If the address is not required, and was intentionally omitted by the Legislature, then was it their intent that the only thing required was the word of the person signing?

      I don't know, it is simply a legal point.

      And I also don't know that the signatures were excluded solely because an address was missing. But to the extent that they were, I believe this raises an interesting legal question.

      • virginiaconservative says:

        You are right that the ability to win (or lose) shouldn't exclude you from the ballot. Nevertheless, the rules seemed pretty clear and RPV tells us that neither Gingrich nor Perry made the mark. Assuming this count was done openly, accurately, and fairly, I don't think that there is really not too much else to argue. Hopefully, the courts won't meddle in Virginia's rules (though admittedly I could just he speaking here as a Ron Paul supporter).

  3. steveegg says:

    I believe the second question is whether 24.2-545(E), which states that the Presidential primary "shall be considered to be equivalent to a primary for the nomination of a party's candidate", incorporates the address requirement (actually from <a href="; target="_blank">24.2-521, which does not have the "party nominee" exemption 24.2-506 has. Given there is a 400-signature-per-Congressional-district requirement, it is likely that the address requirement has been incorporated.

    • steveegg says:

      I knew there was a reason why I hate IntenseDebate; it doesn't exactly like HTML.

    • Tom White says:

      Steve – Possible. But Section E, I believe, refers to the primary results, not the process of who is included on the ballot. And "considered the equivalent to a primary for the nomination of a party's candidate." refers to "The election, or binding of votes" being the same. Not the two code sections. And not the requirements. But I am not an attorney.

  4. Without the inclusion of an address, there is no way to determine whether the person signing the petition is indeed a "qualified voter" in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a particular congressional district.

    While it might be argued that the address itself is not required under the particular section of the Code governing presidential primaries, if the address is not listed by the signatory, that person's identity remains indeterminate and therefore cannot be counted toward the 10,000 signature statewide total or the 400 per congressional district.

  5. Tom White says:

    True, Rick. But did the state intend that these even be checked. Clearly they want them checked in State elections. But was the address requirement intentionally left out on a Federal Presidential Election question? And it is a primary, not an actual general election. I think the intent of the legislators may be a good question. Why place an address requirement in state elections, but not in presidential primaries?

    And I have no way to Shepardize this to see if there is case law that has settled the question. But I think the law is pretty vague.

  6. Rhymes With Right says:

    Tom, my friend, I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with your commenters here that the address requirement is implicitly incorporated due to other legal requirements for what constitutes a valid signature found elsewhere in state law. What's more, the fact that the law has been interpreted in such a manner since it was adopted also seems dispositive to this non-lawyer.

    But beyond that — the fact that the Perry and Gingrich campaigns operated in such a haphazard, amateurish manner as to not meet what has been understood to be the requirement in every previous primary ought to tell us all we need to know about the two campaigns and candidates. And what it tells us is clearly not good — and that they ought not be viewed as serious candidates as a result. But then again, polling data is telling us that anyway, as these two former flavors of the month begin to fade back into the obscurity their candidacies deserve.
    My recent post The Nativity Story According To The Gospel Of St. Matthew

    • Tom White says:

      Actually, simply turning in 10,000 signatures was enough in 2000, 2004 and 2008. If you had the 10,000 and 400 from each CD, they were not checked. The question is when they moved the bar.

  7. NavyOne says:


    I saw this and wondered what happened. That I remembered VaRight. And now I know the backstory. Amazing.

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Excuse me. I understand the legal niceties cannot be avoided. I understand we all have our favorite candidates, but would you all do me a favor? Just answer a straightforward question. This is Christmas Day in 2011. We are talking about a presidential election in November 2012. When it is so difficult to get a presidential campaign rolling, why are we requiring that the petitions be completed now? All this kind of crap does is make it almost impossible except for the richest candidates to run. I don't care how organized you are. In Prince William County we just filled our seats in the General Assembly, the Sheriff's office, the Commonwealth Attorney, the Board of County Supervisors, the School Board, and the Soil and Water Board. And now we are already being pestered by presidential candidates. My wife is so sick of telephone solicitations from politicians it is not funny. When voters refuse to pay any attention to another political race this soon, the news media is just not that interested.

    I follow politics more carefully than most. Until after our elections in November 2011, I had no real interest in the 2012 elections. So the first I heard of that the petitions would be due before Christmas was when the press started saying Gingrich would not have time to get his petitions done. And I just shook my head. We are going to be stuck with a choice between RINO and a Libertarian? Oh SH–! Is it really any surprise the Liberal News media carried that story?

    By requiring the primary and the petitions so early, we have unnecessarily eliminated perfectly good candidates (Compared to Obama, it is silly to say otherwise.). If one of us wants to call Gingrich's and Perry's campaigns inept, it's our right, but we have no chance of getting on the ballot. Anyone who can even come close deserve some respect. What the fact only Romney and Paul qualified indicates is that we have set the bar absurdly high.

    • Rosie says:

      The petitions are required so early because the ballots must be prepared, proofed and printed and the voting equipment ballots programmed, loaded and tested in time to start in person absentee voting on January 20th and get requested mail absentee ballots in the outgoing mail no later than January 21, as required by state law (no later than the 45th day before the primary). The filing deadline now falls right before Christmas because the state law was changed last Session to move the presidential primary from the second Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March, so that's just how it works out.

  9. Craig Kilby says:

    Tom, an interesting posit and it would indeed be an ironic twist to this sordid story were it work out that way. As for J.R.'s comment about this not endearing Newt to the RPV establishment, that much has been evident for a long time before this. But I really don't see it in the cards, as much as I would like to wish it so. What it does do, however, is magnify the absurdity of the VA code on this matter. It could indeed be the basis of a class action lawsuit by disenfranchised VA voters vs State of Virginia.

  10. Tom White says:

    Juse me kicking up dust again!

    • Diane says:

      Tom this is an excellent issue you have raised. The fact that the word "address" was in one section of the code and not in another section………to me confirms that "addresses" are not needed. So at this point, what can one do to find an answer? Maybe we will have more then 2 choices after all….

  11. yoduhh says:

    there is another section, which deals with va primaries, "§ 24.2-521. Petition required to accompany declaration; number of signatures required". that addresses requirements for "A candidate for nomination by primary for any office" that addresses the requirement for the address of the petitioner, which can be read with § 24.2-545. Presidential primary, and they are not mutually exclusive.

    • Tom White says:

      That section does not mention the office of President. Therefore, one might be able to say that a presidential primary would fall under #8 "For any other candidate, 50 signatures". However, I believe section 545 as quoted above would still apply.

      • yoduhh says:

        section 521 says 'for any office' so it does not have to mention the office of president. 'any office' is just that 'any' office. section 545 adds additional specific requirements for the office of president so the 50 signatures under #8 is trumped by section 545. to trump section 521's address requirements section 545 would have to specifically say addresses are not required, which it doesn't. reading legislation this way falls under the rules of statutory construction, something that is taught in law school, so non lawyers may not be familiar with them.

  12. spil gratis says:

    They are so cute!! And such a neat pose. Someday you must go to Oatman, AZthey have wild (read well-fed tame) donkeys that walk around and look adorable. We are going there (Laughlin) soon-hope I can get there to sketch.


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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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