RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for Virginia’s March 6, 2012 Republican presidential primary, claims the state Board of Elections and its Republican Party are unconstitutionally keeping him off the ballot.
Perry sued three members of the Virginia State Board of Elections and the state’s Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins in Federal Court.
Perry acknowledges that his campaign did not collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, but claims it’s because of Virginia’s illegal requirement that petition circulators be “either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state.”
So far, only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have qualified for Virginia’s Republican presidential primary.
Virginia requires candidates to file with the State Board of Elections petitions signed by at least 10,000 qualified voters, including 400 from each congressional district, who promise to vote in the primary of the party as the candidate for whom the petitions are filed.
The petitions for the March 2012 primary must have been signed and circulated by registered voters and turned in to the Board by Dec. 22, 2011.
“On December 22, 2011, plaintiff submitted to the Board over 6,000 petition signatures from qualified Virginia voters,” Perry says in his complaint.
Mullins informed Perry the next day that he had not submitted enough signatures and would not make the ballot.
But Perry claims: “Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered qualified voters in the state imposes a severe burden on plaintiffs’ freedoms of speech and association because it substantially limits the number of eligible petition circulators.”
He claims the state law violates the 1st and 14th Amendments.
Perry wants the court to declare Virginia’s petition-circulators requirement unconstitutional, and issue an injunction preventing the Commonwealth from enforcing the rule. And he wants Virginia ordered to certify him as a candidate for the March primary.
Perry is represented by Hugh Fain with Spotts Fain, of Richmond.