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Radtke asks for clarification on Senate ballot access

Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Jamie Radtke sent a letter last evening to Speaker Bill Howell and Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment, seeking their assurance that the General Assembly will take legislative steps to prevent confusion in the ballot access procedures for 2012 Senate candidates.

“According to the ‘Candidate Bulletin’ issued this week by the State Board of Elections,” said Radtke, “two significant ballot access issues could arise this year because the General Assembly has failed to complete Congressional redistricting in a timely manner.”

State law mandates that candidates must collect at least 10,000 signatures of Virginia voters, with a minimum of 400 of those signatures coming from each of Virginia’s 11 Congressional Districts. According to the SBE bulletin, the window for gathering petition signatures opened on January 1, meaning that the 400-signature requirement currently applies to voters in the existing Congressional District lines.

SBE notes that, should the Commonwealth enact new Congressional District lines at any point during the petition-gathering process, the minimum signature requirement would apply to the newly created lines. Enactment into law of new lines is not likely until the final few days of the petition process, at the earliest.

The SBE Candidate Bulletin also notes the possibility that the June 2012 primary could be moved to later in the year if the General Assembly fails to complete redistricting in a timely manner. Under current rules, a change in the primary date would invalidate all signatures gathered with a June 12, 2012, date on the petition form.

In her letter to Howell and Norment, Radtke stated:

“I would ask that you both make a public commitment to ensure a legislative remedy to these issues is put in place so that all potential candidates for United States Senate will know the process for ballot access this year.

“Specifically, I would urge your legislative action include the following remedies: 1) The minimum signature requirement for each Congressional District can be fulfilled using EXISTING district lines, regardless of when the General Assembly passes redistricting this year; and 2) Petitions collected now displaying a primary date of June 12, 2012, will be considered valid even if the primary is moved to a later date.”

Radtke added, “Virginia’s ballot access requirements have been among the strictest in the nation for decades. The recent debacle regarding the 2012 Presidential primary has cast our process in a severely negative light across America. Can you imagine what the media would say if a candidate were denied access to the ballot based on either of the two issues I mentioned above?”

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