Until he issues a ruling on Gov. Perry’s ballot challenge, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. has ordered the Virginia State Board of Elections that a directive be sent to each of the state’s local boards ordering them not to print any absentee ballots until after the emergency motion is heard on Friday.
Virginia needed to start printing ballots this weekend and mail them out by Jan 21 in order to get absentee ballots overseas in time. Virginia’s primary is on March 6th.
Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said, “This is a positive development for the presidential candidates and the citizens of Virginia and we look forward to the hearing on January 13th.”
As it stands, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the GOP candidates qualified for Virginia’s primary. In order to qualify Candidates must get 10 thousand signatures, 400 from each of the 11 counties.
Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, just last week, received permission to join Perry’s challenge. The Candidates claim Virginia’s rules violate “freedoms of speech and association protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
In a Richmond Times-Dispatch article, Chairman Charles E. Judd and secretary Donald Palmer, of the Virginia Board of Elections, said an injunction requiring the addition of Perry’s name to the ballot would pose difficulties given the Jan. 21 deadline to mail absentee ballots 45 days ahead of the primary. “There’s so much that has to be done I don’t know physically how we’d be able to do it, and that’s my concern,” Judd said.
Palmer agreed saying, “What we did today was the whistle for the train to leave the station,” he said. “Right now, election officials are preparing and programming the ballots for the overseas and military voters.”
“Time is of the essence if there is going to be any additional names. That deadline is the 21st of January, but this process takes two to three weeks of getting the ballots tested, prepared, printed, shipped back to the election officials and sent out to the overseas military.”