|"I'm a Newt" "I'm a chipmunk!" (Linked to source: Salon.com)|
Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have failed to gather and submit the required 10,000 minimum signatures from registered voters in Virginia in order to make the primary ballot in March, according to the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV).The ballot will now only be Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. (Huntsman, Bachmann, and Santorum did not submit petitions.)
Gingrich did have a slight lead in Virginia over Mitt Romney in the Commonwealth, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, released Wednesday morning. Gingrich has 30 percent and Romney has 25 percent among VA Republican voters.
Instead of admitting he failed to gather enough signatures (his campaign was seen still gathering signatures outside of an event in Richmond on Thursday), Newt Gingrich's campaign criticized the process. "Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates. We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice.”
Way to endear yourself to the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), Mr. Speaker. It's not like you haven't known for months that this was coming! I wonder if when he's a visiting professor if he allows students to use that same excuse? "Professor, I've known for months that this was coming. But I think the system is wrong. Asking me to do homework in every class is too much. I'm going to start an aggressive write-in campaign from my parents and all my friends making sure I get to pass!"
Earlier this week, Gingrich boasted that he was going to shame a doubtful GOP establishment because he had gathered more than 10,000 signatures. (Too bad he didn't pull a Rick Reilly on Jimmer. That would have been fun to see!)
The Gingrich camp is complaining and arguing with the way the RPV validates the gathered signatures. Apparently, they don't like that the RPV is making sure all of the signatures came from registered voters! Claiming that apparently for the first time, the collected signatures and addresses are being cross-checked against the electronic voter database file for accuracies.
(Just a quick reminder- there is an active investigation happening in Indiana right now regarding the 2008 Obama campaign. There is a great deal of evidence that many signatures were forgeries. Things could have turned out quite differently there if the signatures had been verified before the ballot, and not after. In fact, there's a good chance Obama would not have made the ballot at all!)
According to the unnamed Gingrich spokesman, a name without a proper address match is thrown out.
"What one needs to ask is 'what percentage of valid, registered voters self-identify a current address that matches voter rolls that the voter might not have updated since 2008? Are you 100% certain that your address you and all of your neighbors matches current voter rolls? It strikes me that this is not an accurate means to identify registered voters signing for ANY candidate, not just Gingrich," the official wrote. (According to Politico.)
"It is also important to note that this is not an election and therefore the issue is not about preventing fraud or making sure 'every vote counts'. This is about whether Gingrich, Romney, Paul, and Perry (or Santorum or Bachman for that matter) belong on the Republican ballot for the nomination. Of course they do. Keeping them off by some arbitrary process based on potentially inaccurate government data potentially PREVENTS people from casting their vote as they want if their candidate is excluded from the ballot by this process. Many states, for example, leave the issue of who should be on the ballot for party nomination to the discretion of the Secretary of State and/or the Party."
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is always wise to use the "let's not go with what the people have said, and instead leave it to the government officials to decide" defense, when running as a Republican.
Now, as mentioned before, this blogger was out on election day in November gathering signatures for Romney to get on the ballot. As a result, I know a few things about the signature collecting process. You can see the actual petition voters were asked to sign right here- Petition of Qualified Voters For Presidential Primary. As you can see, voters provide their name, signature, address, and optionally the last four digits of their social security number to accelerate the verification process. (Right at this moment I'm feeling guilty about the 100 signatures I collected. I let a lot of voters slip through without giving me their full addresses. That means several of my names probably got tossed out. And yet, Romney still made the ballot!)
Now, as for the complaint that voter addresses may not have been updated since 2008, let's take a quick look at the letter I received in the mail this past month-
In the past month the State Board of Elections reached out to me (at my current address I have only lived at for 4 months) to verify my address. It took me 10 seconds to fill it out, detach the bottom portion, and return it, postage paid. So, in my humble opinion, the Gingrich campaign complaint that a voter's address may not have been updates since 2008 is fairly weak. It looks to me like they do a pretty good job of keeping their database up to date!
Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures. Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and chairman of Perry’s campaign in Virginia, said he was disappointed they did not qualify, and, "Hopefully, he will do better in other states. He can focus on other states.”
In comparison, the Romney campaign was collecting signatures at least as far back as October.
President Obama was the first presidential candidate to submit his signatures Dec. 2. The Democratic Party of Virginia certified his signatures Friday. He was the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot so the State Board of Elections will cancel the primary. All Virginia delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be cast for him, said Brian Moran, party chairman.