Judge Blocks Virginia From Mailing Absentee Ballots for Republican Primary
By Tom Schoenberg – Jan 10, 2012 10:14 AM ET
Virginia officials, sued by presidential hopeful Rick Perry, were ordered to refrain from mailing absentee ballots or printing regular ones for the state’s Republican primary pending a Jan. 13 hearing.
U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond yesterday said the process must be halted while he considers the suit by the Texas governor and other Republican presidential candidates, who were disqualified from the state’s primary because they didn’t submit 10,000 signatures from qualified Virginia voters.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed a notice of appeal today seeking to overturn Gibney’s order immediately. E. Duncan Getchell Jr., Virginia solicitor general, said during a Dec. 29 hearing that primary ballots needed to go to the printer by yesterday to meet the legal deadlines to provide ballots to absentee and overseas voters.
“We have complied with the order and we are seeking an emergency review by the Fourth Circuit,” Brian Gottstein, Cuccinelli’s spokesman, said in an e-mail yesterday.
Perry last month sought a temporary order to halt state officials from printing the ballots, or to require them to include his name. In a lawsuit filed Dec. 27 in federal court in Richmond, Perry claimed the state’s requirement that people who circulate petitions be eligible or registered to vote in Virginia violates his constitutional rights.
They argued that Virginia’s rules governing petition circulators violate “freedoms of speech and association protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments” of the U.S. Constitution.
In yesterday’s order, Gibney said he will rule on Perry’s request for a preliminary injunction the same day as the Jan. 13 hearing.
“This is a positive development for the presidential candidates and the citizens of Virginia,” Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, said in an e-mail.
Cuccinelli said Perry was disqualified from the March 6 election because he failed to collect the 10,000 signatures required by state rules.
Perry “lacks standing to assert an injury arising from the inability to circulate his own petitions because there is no averment that he stood ready, willing and able to circulate his own petitions and there is no basis for concluding that he would have collected a sufficient number of valid signatures,” the state said in its filing.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas are the only Republicans to make it onto the ballot for Virginia’s primary on so-called Super Tuesday, the Republican Party of Virginia said last month.
The case is Perry v. Judd, 3:11-cv-00856, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond).
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