Write-ins prohibited in Virginia primaries
December 24th, 2011
03:08 PM ET
3 years ago

Write-ins prohibited in Virginia primaries

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich’s plan to wage a write-in campaign for Virginia’s GOP presidential primary may be dead on arrival. Virginia state law specifically prohibits voters from writing in candidates not on the ballot in primary elections.

On Saturday, Gingrich’s campaign said it would attempt to persuade voters to write in the former House speaker’s name after the Republican Party of Virginia rejected the candidate’s petitions to appear on the primary ballot.

“We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice," Gingrich's campaign director, Michael Krull, said in a written statement.

However, a section of Virginia state law dealing with elections specifically bars voters from writing in candidates in primary elections.

“At all elections except primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person's name on the official ballot,” the law says.

When asked for comment, Gingrich's press secretary, R.C. Hammond, said the campaign "is currently in the process of evaluating what the options are."

Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, said Saturday that Gingrich's options could include a legal challenge.

"He could try and challenge it in court," Tobias said of the write-in law, which was put in place in the 1950s and updated in the 1970s.

Tobias was skeptical, however, that a judge would be willing to entertain the challenge.

"Elections are so sacrosanct," he said.

Ultimately, Tobias said, Gingrich's failure to gather the required number of signatures came down to a ground game, and the ability to reach registered voters in Virginia's rural congressional districts.

"It speaks to organization, and people who are successful have ground organizations, or a longer-running organization, like (former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt) Romney or (Rep. Ron) Paul," Tobias said.


Filed under: Newt Gingrich • Virginia
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Anyone who has run for president as many times as Mittens already knows this. Maybe Newt will remember in 2016.

    December 24, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. A disgusted former Republican

    Too bad Grinch, you should have paid more attention to detail. This just shows you are not Presidential material.

    December 24, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This should help the man of many Mittens lock up the nomination for the ship of fools. It looks like Rove and the Kochs have won another, along with the help of suppression of votes.

    December 24, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. MWM

    Great leadership! Can't even manage to get on the ballot. Even Obama can manage that.

    December 24, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Alby

    “We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign." Hilarious.

    December 24, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. greg

    Gingrich has no familiarity whatsoever with Virginia election laws. He sounds so uninformed. Six candidates made it on the ballot last cycle

    December 24, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. bp

    Can't build a competent organization capable of meeting the clearly-stated requirement to qualify for the Virginia primary, then vows to pursue a course of action without first checking that it is feasible/legal.

    Further evidence that Gingrinch would make an excellent President. The man exudes executive competence and mastery of the facts. He's the intellectual standard-bearer of the GOP.

    December 24, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. kenny

    Well I always said this was all about selling more books and hiking his speaking fees. Now it's time to shut down and go home Newt. You have been exposed as a phony when you can't even get on the ballot in your "HOME STATE".

    December 24, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Our neighbors just got together and sang one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Wingnuts roasting on an open fire, fueled by their own greed and hate,...."

    December 24, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. brian

    Disenfranchise voters and then limit the candidates they are allowed to choose from. Welcome to the 1930's

    December 24, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Keith in Austin

    Somehow, keeping Gingrich and Perry off the ballot list in VA because of their campaigns oversight doesn't wash with Liberal Democrats demanding voting rights for people that can't produce a simple photo-I.D. American Politics are becoming a bigger and bigger charade every day!

    December 24, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    After reading Doug's delusional diatribe, I am convinced that right wingnuts are on drugs.

    December 24, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    "Virginia state law specifically prohibits voters from writing in candidates not on the ballot in primary elections."

    Wow, those freedom-loving Virginians! Then again, the Confederate capital was is Richmond ...

    December 24, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. krissmith777

    I guess Romney wins VA without a single vote cast.

    December 24, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. MaryM

    lol, this is way to funny, its just Romney and Paul on the ballot in VA. What will the late nite comedy shows do without the wonderful material these candidates give them.

    December 24, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  16. jon

    Newt ...trying to break the law again. Newt's plan i'll do what I want when I want it and who cares about anyone else. you don't see Huntsman trying to break the law. Newt forgets that the voter did decide , they said you can't get 10000 votes in Virgina to be put on the ballot. I think the voters of Virgina has been loud and clear.

    December 24, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. It is Against Ronald Reagan Rule for Myth Romney and his Super PACs Thug to Attack Fellow GOPers

    I dont like Newt Gingrinch, but this is the United States for pete's sake...how can the GOP establishment thugs in Virginia or any other state deny any candidate from putting their names on the ballot?...............they are basically denying GOP/Teabbaging voters their right to vote for any candidate of their choice....their voting rights & free speech is being violated and the GOP lemmings/news media are applauding this as good news!!!

    GOP/Teabaggers like chanting free speech and wanting to take "their country" back but they can't even challenge this voter disenfranchisement? Is this Iran or Syria?.....Com'on GOP Teanuts? where are your ball$$$ now????

    December 24, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. jon

    book tour , Greek cruise spending to much time doing K street work......oops I guess he forgot he was running for President.

    December 24, 2011 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    Tooo funny – he lives outside DC -– in VIRGINIA -– he just doesn't believe laws apply to him.

    King Newt didn't make it in his own home state in spite of all the folks trying to force a republican win by eliminating blacks and poor whites from voting.

    December 24, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. GOP = Greed Over People

    The newt and Perry want to lead the United States, but cannot get 10,000 signatures when they have had months to prepare?

    Not sure if it was ineptness or just lack of interest.

    But in either case, those are not attributes I want in ANY public official, let alone the President!

    December 24, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. sigh

    You know, I'm not a Gingrich fan but I think there's something a little wrong with that law...

    December 24, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  22. GonzoinHouston

    C'mon, gang, every state has certain minimum requirements for getting on the ballot. The object is to keep every loony and their brother from signing up on a whim. The requirement was always there and any competent national campaign manager would know it. Newt didn't want to listen to anybody but himself and Perry knew about it but forgot. Write-in ballots are legal in VA on the election, just not in the primaries. These two blew it and have no one but themselves to blame.

    December 24, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. The Wise Professor

    In my opinion yet another example of arrogance from Newt thinking the laws don’t apply to him.

    December 24, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. janiceinthemountains

    Gingrich and Perry are running incompetent campaigns. If they can't manage to get on a ballot, how could they actually govern? Both need to go home and be done.

    December 24, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Deep in the heart of TX

    So, this unorganized and now obviously illiterate chump, is supposed to be THE smart one in the GOP?

    With these intellectual standards, soon a #2 pencil will be the "new young gun" of the GOP!

    December 24, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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