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!