Just what the hell is going on in Virgina? As it stands now, the ONLY people on the Republican ballots for the Super Tuesday primary will be Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich have been disqualified from the Virginia primary ballot. This is the death of democracy by bureaucratic chainsaw massacre. "Virginia’s 49 delegates, handed out proportionally based on election results, make up more than 10 percent of the 475 delegates up for grabs on Super Tuesday." The ultimate effect of this could be to give Romney, who was not leading in Virginia polls, a huge and unfair boost towards winning the Republican nomination. This stinks like a cesspool in 100 degree heat.
Both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich provided signed petitions of over 10,000 people in order to be included on the Virginia ballot. I will assume for this post that they complied with the additional specification that at least 400 of the petitions came from each of Virginia's 11 Congressional districts. Yet in the past 12 hours, the three member Virginia Board of Elections, chaired by Charles Judd, with Kimberly Bowers as Vice Chair and Don Palmer as Secretary, has ruled that neither Perry nor Gingrich presented enough valid petitions to qualify for the ballot. They have not announced any of the specifics underlying their decision.
None of the other third tier candidates, Huntsman, Bachman or Santorum, bothered to turn in petitions before the deadline. Thus their failure to be on the ballot is not at issue. But in the space of a few hours, reviewing the combined 23,000 plus petitions of Perry and Gingrich, both get the axe? This stinks to high heaven. It is time for some enterprising reporters to give a full rectal exam to Mssrs. Judd, Bowers and Palmer as well as taking an electron microscope to the reasoning behind the axing of both Perry and Gingrich. I want to see the hanging chads.
Update: So indeed it does appear that there is much more to this story. Moe Lane has the story here. Prior to November, any candidate who turned in 10,000 signatures on a petition was deemed to have met the requirements without further checking. An internal change to the rules in November kept the 10,000 signature requirement, but made the cut-off for checking the signatures for validity 15,000. Indeed, neither the Romney nor the Paul campaign were subject to any review of their signatures, nor have they requested such a review. As Moe comments:
I think that John Fund’s general comment is correct: this is going to go to the courts. John was not discussing this specific wrinkle, but his larger point that Virginia’s ballot access policies have systemic problems gets a big boost when it turns out that the state party can effectively increase by fifty percent the practical threshold for ballot access – in a day, and in the middle of an existing campaign.
I say again, this stinks like a cesspool in 100 degree heat.