The Virginia primary isn’t until March 6; who knows what will happen between now and then? Perhaps one or more candidates among Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum will have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure their names will appear on the Virginia ballot only to be out of the race by the beginning of March anyway.

Nevertheless, those left out in the cold in Old Dominion haven’t given up without a fight — and it looks like they might win it after all. Recall that Perry has filed a ballot access lawsuit — in which he was joined by Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum. Today, Judge John Gibney filed a five-page order in which he suggests “there is a strong likelihood that the Court will find the residency requirement for petition circulators to be unconstitutional.”

More from The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky:

Yesterday, Judge Gibney ordered the Virginia State Board of Elections to notify all local county electoral boards that they are barred “from ordering any ballots” or “from mailing out any absentee ballots” until after the judge holds a hearing on the case on January 13. The judge says in the order that he will make a decision on the merits of the temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction being sought by the candidates on the 13th.

Additionally, the ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief today on the side of the Republican presidential candidates, arguing that Virginia’s 10,000-signature requirement for a presidential candidate to appear on the ballot “reduces the quantity of [political] speech available in Virginia, and directly infringes on the First Amendment rights of candidates, voters, petition circulators, and political parties.”

The ACLU also argues that Virginia’s residency requirement for petition circulators is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. In fact, the ACLU says that Virginia has “fail[ed] even to articulate a compelling interest.” It asks the court to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a TRO and a preliminary injunction. Looks like the judge agrees with the ACLU.

This has been a debacle from the beginning, and I’m still of the mindset that the failure of the candidates to meet the requirements says more about their campaign organization than the absurdity of the Virginia requirements — but, in the end, if Mitt Romney and a non-Mitt Romney are in a very, very tight race as of March 6, voters will likely be very grateful for this judge’s probable decision.