VA GOP chair: We sent memo on petition verification in October

posted at 11:25 am on December 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, an undated memo from the chair of the Republican Party of Virginia surfaced, in which Pat Mullins announced the validation process for candidate petitions in the presidential race to qualify for the primary ballot.  This led some to claim that the RPV had changed the rules at the last minute, keeping Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich from getting onto the ballot.  Mullins responded to this speculation in a lengthy statement, reprinted at the Virginia blog Bearing Drift, in which Mullins states that the memo went out to all campaigns in October:

From the earliest days of the campaigns, RPV has actively told candidates that Virginia’s signature requirements could be a difficult legal requirement to meet for those who were new to Virginia politics.

In October 2011, RPV formally adopted the certification procedures that were applied on December 23: any candidate who submitted over 15,000 facially-valid signatures would be presumed to be in compliance with Virginia’s 10,000 signature law. …

Candidates were officially informed of the 15,000 rule in October 2011, well in advance of the Dec. 22 submission deadline. The rule was no surprise to any candidate – and indeed, no candidate or campaign offered any complaints until after the Dec. 23 validation process had concluded.

Despite this early notice and RPV’s exhortations to candidates, only one candidate availed himself of the 15,000 signature threshold – Governor Mitt Romney. RPV counted Governor Romney’s signatures, reviewed them for facial validity, and determined he submitted well over 15,000. Never in the party’s history has a candidate who submitted more than 15,000 signatures had 33 percent invalidated. The party is confident that Governor Romney met the statutory threshold.

Rep. Ron Paul submitted just under 15,000, and was submitted to signature-by-signature scrutiny on the same basis as the other candidates who submitted fewer than 15,000 signatures. After more than 7 hours of work, RPV determined that Rep. Paul had cleared the statutory 10,000/400 signature standard with ease.

The RPV had sent out the verification requirements to all campaigns in March of this year, with the advice to collect between 15,000 and 20,000 signatures, as well as noting the requirements in state law for addresses for each signature, and so on.  The only change that took place in October was the decision to accept 15,000 signatures as prima facie evidence of qualification without having to verify each signature, a change that made ballot access easier, not more difficult.  All campaigns got two month’s notice of this change, and only one took advantage of it — Mitt Romney’s.  Ron Paul’s campaign just missed the cut and the RPV had to verify each signature.  Otherwise, the verification standards for the signatures didn’t change at all, which they couldn’t, as those are set by state law in Virginia.

Other candidates can challenge this interpretation of Virginia law, but the only consequence of that challenge would be to force the RPV to individually validate Romney’s signatures in order to establish equal treatment.  That won’t put more signatures on paper for either Gingrich or Perry.

Moreover, the idea that the Republican Party in Virginia has a stake in narrowing the field is, frankly, strange.  All this does is make Virginia less relevant, not more, in the primary process, hardly the outcome that a state that fought for a Super Tuesday slot wants.  None of the other candidates will bother to campaign in the Old Dominion now, which will hurt Republicans running for state offices as well as Congress as money goes elsewhere in this cycle.  The incentives for the RPV are all tilted in the other direction — getting more candidates to spend more time and money in their state in order to help boost Republican fortunes in Virginia.

Mullins concludes with a little warning shot across the bow of campaigns claiming victimization in this process:

The party will discuss the specific nature of their shortfalls if necessary. But the failure of these two candidates to meet the state requirements does not call into question the accuracy of the Party’s certification of the two candidates who are duly qualified to appear on the ballot.

I’m sure that the Gingrich and Perry campaigns don’t want any more discussion of organizational incompetence as the primaries rapidly approach.  Clearly, though, Republican campaigns had ample warning of the verification process and the option to skip it by following the RPV’s advice from March to get at least 150% of the legally required signatures to ensure ballot access.

Update: On a tangent, the Virginia GOP have reinstated a “loyalty oath” for the primary, bringing it back from 2000:

Voters who want to take part in the Commonwealth’s March 6 Republican primary will be asked for a November commitment.

Virginia Republicans requested the Va. State Board of Elections to allow it to ask primary voters for a loyalty oath, promising to support the Republican party’s nominee for president in the general election.

“The code of Virginia allows for political parties to require individuals who wish to participate in presidential primaries to sign a pledge that he or she will support the party’s candidate in the general election,” said Justin Riemer, deputy secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections.  For this year’s primaries, Virginia’s Republican party chose to exercise that right.

According to the Times-Dispatch, “The pledge will require the voter to sign and to print his name beneath a line that says: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”

Maybe they should have made that a requirement of the candidates, since one of the two on the ballot won’t make that same commitment.  It’s obviously not binding, but it might offend a few independents and Democrats, and, er … you know who that helps.


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Hang the VRP for disallowing write-ins.

listens2glenn on December 29, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Ban hammer?

Capitalist Hog on December 29, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Mitt Romney: Competent, effective campaign.

Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich: not so much.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry ought to endorse Mitt Romney by the end of January. I do not want to see a primary season going on and on and on. Let’s unite ASAP and take it straight and hard to Obama.

bluegill on December 29, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Hang the VRP for disallowing write-ins.

listens2glenn on December 29, 2011 at 5:46 PM

Ban hammer?

Capitalist Hog on December 29, 2011 at 7:29 PM

I don’t think so; look at the context.

Maybe a banhammer for crying “wolf” and wasting the mods’ time, though.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Honestly, I don’t see why this VA ballot issue deserves so many posts, though I do appreciate the analysis provided by Ed. What more do people need to know? Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich messed up, big time, OK?

Let’s quit pandering to the brainwashed, Romney-hating conspiracy theorists and quit pretending that the VA ballot signature mess-up by Newt and Perry was anything other than a revealing, embarrasing blunder! An Epic Fail, if you will. The only campaign that appears to have been on the ball was Mitt Romney’s (and Ron Paul’s campaign even managed to make the cut).

I mean, fine, if new information comes to light, then share it, but I say we focus more of our attention on going after Obama. It’s time to start preparing to unite and to put behind us all the primary season bickering.

bluegill on December 29, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Mitt Romney: Competent, effective campaign.

Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich: not so much.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry ought to endorse Mitt Romney by the end of January. I do not want to see a primary season going on and on and on. Let’s unite ASAP and take it straight and hard to Obama.

bluegill on December 29, 2011 at 7:40 PM

No thank you. Let’s let the voters decide. Of course, then it might not be for your hero.

kg598301 on December 29, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Let’s quit pandering to the brainwashed, Romney-hating conspiracy theorists and quit pretending that the VA ballot signature mess-up by Newt and Perry was anything other than a revealing, embarrasing blunder! An Epic Fail, if you will. The only campaign that appears to have been on the ball was Mitt Romney’s (and Ron Paul’s campaign even managed to make the cut).

I mean, fine, if new information comes to light, then share it, but I say we focus more of our attention on going after Obama. It’s time to start preparing to unite and to put behind us all the primary season bickering.

bluegill on December 29, 2011 at 7:52 PM

There is no evidence that Romney submitted 10,000 valid signatures. They were never checked.

It’s a hell of a thing to deny every Republican in VA the right to vote for their chosen candidate, without ever checking Romney’s signatures, too.

It’s not all about calling Newt and Rick screw-ups. It’s about giving Romney delegates that he couldn’t earn if he weren’t on the ballot.

And the way they’ve got this set up, Romney’s on the ballot with ZERO checked signatures, and Gingrich and Perry are off, with thousands of legal, verified signatures.

There is a fundamental problem here that can’t be mau-maued away.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Check Romney’s signatures – and if he makes 10,000, then fine.

If they are not checked, and Gingrich and Perry are kept off the ballot, with no write-ins allowed, there is no way to construe the result of the Virginia GOP primary as the voice of Republican voters in Virginia.

And at the convention, the Virginia delegates will NOT be representing the actual will of the people.

That’s pretty sad.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Listen to yourself. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry screw up massively, fail to make the cut (even though they were warned FAR IN ADVANCE what the requirements were), and yet you somehow to try to make this about Romney?! How sad. No wonder the Romney-haters on this site have such a bad reputation.

All candidates had to play by the same rules. Let’s not change the rules at this point. If you are unhappy about who didn’t make it on the ballot, direct your frustration at the incompetent, embarrassing, floundering campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Newt and Rick couldn’t get their acts together, so now they pay the price. End of story.

bluegill on December 29, 2011 at 8:56 PM

It’s not all about calling Newt and Rick screw-ups. It’s about giving Romney delegates that he couldn’t earn if he weren’t on the ballot.

Newt and Rick could not earn those delegates anyway, whether he is on the ballot or not.

And the way they’ve got this set up, Romney’s on the ballot with ZERO checked signatures, and Gingrich and Perry are off, with thousands of legal, verified signatures.

And if Romney is off the ballot… Gingrich and Perry still don’t get on the ballot.

And at the convention, the Virginia delegates will NOT be representing the actual will of the people.

Were they represented in prior elections when all of the candidates were allowed in under conditions even less stringent than the lax ones afforded Romney? Would they be any more represented if Romney were not on the ballot either? Would they be any more represented if the ballot contained names that couldn’t garner signatures from 0.25% of the voting population?

So again I ask what is the endgame of going after Romney’s signatures. I don’t disagree that checking Romney’s signatures would be better than not checking them, I just don’t understand the point of dying on this particular hill.

The Schaef on December 29, 2011 at 9:03 PM

yet you somehow to try to make this about Romney?! How sad. No wonder the Romney-haters on this site have such a bad reputation.

I’m not a “Romney hater,” and this isn’t about Romney. I am speaking purely about the process. I’m unhappy with the statistically fallacious nature of the process. Romney’s signatures were never verified.

I’ve been quite clear about my line of reasoning, and so it’s not worth any more time to restate it just for you. If you disagree, please read my calm, specific reasoning upthread.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:03 PM

So again I ask what is the endgame of going after Romney’s signatures. I don’t disagree that checking Romney’s signatures would be better than not checking them, I just don’t understand the point of dying on this particular hill.

The Schaef on December 29, 2011 at 9:03 PM

You’re not getting it, either, I’M NOT PICKING A FRICKING HORSE!

The process is statistically bogus.

I have no endgame other than to see each signature verified IN THE SAME MANNER, and then let the chips fall where they may.

If Romney then falls short of 10,000, well, then, tough tittie for Virginia. It’s Ron Paul, or start over.

I’M NOT SLAMMING ROMNEY OR BACKING PERRY AND GINGRICH. CAN’T ANY OF YOU PEOPLE READ?

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:06 PM

I swear, some of the people backing up the VA GOP here probably are perfectly happy with Barry Bonds as home-run king.

After all, he DID hit the ball over the fence 73 times.

That’s all that matters, I guess.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Perry had absolutely no excuse. His coffers were full of money at the time.

Newt had no excuse, he’s been playing national politics for a long time. He knew the rules.

scotash on December 29, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Perry had absolutely no excuse. His coffers were full of money at the time.

Newt had no excuse, he’s been playing national politics for a long time. He knew the rules.

scotash on December 29, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Yes, but Romney voters are given more weight than Perry or Gingrich voters. Romney voters don’t have to have matching signatures. They are special, uber-Virginians.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

I am not making a zero-sum argument here. That’s apparently so uncommon now on Hot Air that no one recognizes it.

I am criticizing a flawed VA primary that gives Romney voters the benefit of the doubt by not checking their petition signatures for disqualifying errors, while Perry, Paul and Gingrich voters are held to every jot and tittle.

Some Virginia Republicans are being treated more equally than others.

I’m not necessarily saying put Newt and Rick back on. I’m saying that if he didn’t reach 10,000 signatures being vetted by the same standard as Newt and Rick, take Romney off.

Hewing to the letter of the 10,000-verified-signature requirement, Ron Paul should be the ONLY one on the ballot so far. He is the only one with 10,000 verified signatures. Mitt’s were waved through and NOT verified.

That’s the plain truth of the matter.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:20 PM

They are special, uber-Virginians.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

That made me laugh.

Don’t bother arguing with the Mittbots. They exist to spread misinformation in favor of the candidate. What is truly disappointing is that Ed Morrissey has given such a superficial analysis of this issue. I count on him giving in depth, reasoned posts about politics. This post leaves out basic facts that would let us know what is happening and then he jumps to a conclusion that isn’t supported by the facts as they exist.

Bill C on December 29, 2011 at 9:23 PM

In deference to Ed, who started this thread, let me restate the basic conflict.

You have two laws:

Law #1: Candidate must have 10,000 valid signatures of registered voters.

Law #2: A candidate who submits 15,000 bulk signatures is deemed to have satisfied Law #1.

This is the same fallacy as “Deem and Pass” during the 0bamacare fight.

Deeming is not the same as voting, and deeming cannot make it so.

If Law #1 is not satisfied, it still exists.

The is no language in Law #2 that says that Law #1 is invalid if Law #2 is fulfilled.

Therefore, saying that 15,000 submitted signatures satisfies Law #1, does not make it so.

Law #1 still stands.

Just because Romney was waved through under Law #2, does not void Law #1.

Romney’s signatures have not been verified. They were matched by computer, which cannot verify individual signatures.

I said it yesterday, this is the same principle as Bush v. Gore, to the T, and it applies, because it is state law, rather than a party rule.

You can’t favor one group of voters over another, to the detriment of the other group.

One person – one vote.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:31 PM

They are special, uber-Virginians.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:15 PM

That made me laugh.

Don’t bother arguing with the Mittbots. They exist to spread misinformation in favor of the candidate. What is truly disappointing is that Ed Morrissey has given such a superficial analysis of this issue. I count on him giving in depth, reasoned posts about politics. This post leaves out basic facts that would let us know what is happening and then he jumps to a conclusion that isn’t supported by the facts as they exist.

Bill C on December 29, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Thank you for at least acknowledging my earnest, diligent, UNBIASED opinion. I love statistics, and that’s why I loved baseball, until Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds killed the sport.

My sense of statistical integrity is grossly offended. Romney is my #2 right now, but even if he were my #1, I would still be crying foul.

The most honorable thing that Romney could do, which would gain him MAJOR integrity points, in my opinion, would be to ask that his signatures be vetted with the same standards as those of Gingrich and Perry. I would think much more of Romney.

And I’m not slamming him. He didn’t write the rules.

But the rules are f–ed up.

Even a group of third-graders would cry foul over what the VA GOP has done.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:36 PM

I don’t care if Romney succeeded in following the rules, and Gingrich and Perry didn’t. The rules are not written to ensure equal treatment of voter signatures. One Virginian is being favored over another.

I repeat:

Romney has ZERO verified signatures, yet is on the ballot, and Gingrich and Perry have THOUSANDS of verified signatures, but are not.

That is the end result, with no “spin.”

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:42 PM

OK, well, I’ve made my case as best I can. I’ve done it in the interest of statistical integrity, not in the interest of Perry or Gingrich, or through animus toward Romney.

I’ve done it in the same vein as those who protest in England when the burglar who gets hit with a homeowner’s bat during a home invasion ends up suing the homeowner, after the homeowner gets out of jail, and ends up being awarded the home, so that the burglar is now the homeowner and the homeowner lives in a shelter.

Fair play is fair play, and Virginia ain’t it.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:45 PM

One last thought, before I decamp from this thread (yeah, I know i camped on it, but I work better alone anyway)

Had it been Bush cherry-picking the counties in Florida, I would have backed Gore to the hilt.

I was a baseball plate umpire for many years. I used to argue balls and strikes in jest between innings with Mike Shanahan when I umped his son. The rulebook must be followed. I believe in rules.

However, the baseball rulebook did not set one rule in opposition to another, as the Virginia GOP has done here. There is a basic problem with the rules here.

Now it’s up to the VA GOP how they’re going to sort out the resulting mess.

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I’M NOT SLAMMING ROMNEY OR BACKING PERRY AND GINGRICH. CAN’T ANY OF YOU PEOPLE READ?

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:06 PM

I can in fact read, which is how I can tell from reading what I wrote that I didn’t say you were slamming Romney or backing a horse not on the ballot. I only asked what should have happened but didn’t as a result of not checking his signatures, that would benefit the process for this primary. I really don’t see any solution that doesn’t give people either more undeserving choices or effectively no choice at all.

Yes, but Romney voters are given more weight than Perry or Gingrich voters. Romney voters don’t have to have matching signatures. They are special, uber-Virginians.

If the presumption is that Romney has valid signatures, those voters get the same weight because their candidate got on the ballot for having 10k and the others are off the ballot for missing the mark. If the presumption is that Romney does not have valid signatures, then Romney voters are not being given more weight because they’re all fake anyway, right?

The Schaef on December 29, 2011 at 10:12 PM

The Virginia rules are the third strictest in the country. So what?

Everyone knew that, or should have. They were advised.

As the VRP Chairman notes, no candidate has ever had 33% of signatures invalidated. Romney’s were spot checked, but of course he made it – he and Obama were smart enough to have petitions outside the polls in November, where all the people leaving were known to be registered, since they just voted.

No matter how many whining posts complain about it, those were the rules. Everyone had notice, everyone had time, only two managed to meet the requirements.

If people believe there was something illegal done, they can sue. Perry has. Guess what? He will lose, and so will anyone else. But that’s the only way to say for sure, isn’t it?

Does anyone think the VRP will reverse its rules AFTER the signing period because a few blog commenters don’t like them? Not bloody likely.

Adjoran on December 30, 2011 at 1:55 AM

OK, well, I’ve made my case as best I can. I’ve done it in the interest of statistical integrity, not in the interest of Perry or Gingrich, or through animus toward Romney.

I’ve done it in the same vein as those who protest in England when the burglar who gets hit with a homeowner’s bat during a home invasion ends up suing the homeowner, after the homeowner gets out of jail, and ends up being awarded the home, so that the burglar is now the homeowner and the homeowner lives in a shelter.

Fair play is fair play, and Virginia ain’t it.

cane_loader

Waaah, waaaaah, waaaaah. You whine more than a democrat, with similar logic to boot. There’s nothing unfair going on here.

xblade on December 30, 2011 at 2:18 AM

cane_loader on December 29, 2011 at 9:59 PM

What you say makes sense, but these rules are apparently nothing new. If you think the rules are silly or don’t make sense, then fine, but you can’t change the rules after the fact.

The bottom line is that Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich wouldn’t have been in this situation had their campaigns been more competent and better organized. If there are actually still people in VA who support Perry, then they should be mad at the Perry campaign for failing to meet even the most basic standard for competence. Perry and Gingrich’s imcompetence is the problem here, not the rules that all parties were aware of MONTHS ago.

bluegill on December 30, 2011 at 5:23 AM

Waaah, waaaaah, waaaaah. You whine more than a democrat, with similar logic to boot. There’s nothing unfair going on here.

xblade on December 30, 2011 at 2:18 AM

My logic is statistically impeccable, and unbiased. You probably backed Gore in Florida.

cane_loader on December 30, 2011 at 11:03 AM

What you say makes sense, but these rules are apparently nothing new. If you think the rules are silly or don’t make sense, then fine, but you can’t change the rules after the fact.

The bottom line is that Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich wouldn’t have been in this situation had their campaigns been more competent and better organized. If there are actually still people in VA who support Perry, then they should be mad at the Perry campaign for failing to meet even the most basic standard for competence. Perry and Gingrich’s imcompetence is the problem here, not the rules that all parties were aware of MONTHS ago.

bluegill on December 30, 2011 at 5:23 AM

I’ll say it again – this isn’t about Gingrich and Perry. It’s about the fact that due to the messed-up laws, Romney doesn’t have a single verified signature, yet he’s being allowed on the ballot. The 10,000-valid-signature requirement is being violated. The VA GOP is violating state law.

cane_loader on December 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Statistically impeccable but with dubious goals.

The Schaef on December 30, 2011 at 11:07 AM

cane_loader on December 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM

It is all about Gingrich and Perry. In the case of General Newt went in to battle with no contingencies or backup plans. He just assumed that the fight will go according to plan. One of his Lt’s deserted him on the field and he never thought to have any troops in reserve or any other way to fill the breach. I know, let’s make him our CinC!

MJBrutus on December 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM

HOT AIR….who’s got the last Laugh now??

REPORT: AG moves to allow Ginrich, Perry onto VA primary ballot…

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/31/virginia-attorney-general-intervenes-in-gop-primary-ballot-dispute/

coach1228 on December 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM

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