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. New Age Independent

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

    I'm sure the ACLU will get involved in this as this law clearly disenfranchises the voters of Virginia. Or are civil rights only applicable to Democrats?

    December 24, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  2. Kenn Amdahl

    I'm not as concerned about write in votes, but we sure better check every primary voter's photo ID. You know, to avoid voter fraud.

    December 24, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. normajean @ verizon ,com

    How interesting.......his self centered , arrogant ways finally caught up with him.....As was said...if he was as smart as he thinks he is....he would have known about that law!!!!!! "That's a gotcha"!!!

    December 24, 2011 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. Republican who supports President Obama

    I am picking myself off the floor from laughing soo hard. These guys spent so much time bashing the President they could not get their own stuff in order.

    As they say in Seinfeld – No Vote For You For One election.

    December 24, 2011 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. politics as usual

    Hey, guess what, Newt? There is no crying in politics!

    December 24, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Tired of the nonsense

    The people have spoken! They don't want Gingrich OR Perry!

    December 24, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Indy

    Wire Palladin

    I think that it is glue that Doug is into, from his last post it is clear that some brain cells have recieved serious damage.
    Newt should know better as a very long term politician he has made himself look like a foll once again, Perry we know forgets many things but Newt should know better

    December 24, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  8. ithink122

    “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."

    I'll ask the same question I asked with the laws requiring state or federal issued photo ID. Why? Is there a legitimate need?

    The problem with laws requiring photo ID is that they never demonstrated a need. There is no evidence that people are committing the type of election fraud this would catch. Even the states that make the laws admit there is nothing to back them up. And since it does have a high chance of disefranchising legitimate legal voters just because they don't have a photo ID, something that is 20% more likely with CITIZEN minorities, it is simply not worth it.

    Well, ask the same question here. Why? Why is it legal to vote via write-in in every single election EXCEPT primaries? Is there a legitimate need not to allow it in primaries? What does it ethically accomplish? If nothing, then why have that kind of law on the books?

    I technically do not have a horse in this race since I will be voting for Obama, but this simply looks too much like voter suppression to ignore. Whether liberal or conservative, this issue should ignore party lines. It doesn't matter which side will be helped by it (or which candidate in which side as in this case), voter suppression should be prevented whereever possible.

    Otherwise, why bother having a democracy?

    December 24, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. Marisa

    EPIC FAIL.

    December 24, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Bribarian

    Ron Paul please

    December 24, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. Samuel

    No problem. I "wrote off" Newt decades ago. Writing him in now would do no good.

    December 24, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. Keith in Austin

    Wire Paladin is the illegitimate son of Mitt Romney and is upset that he has to live on Government food stamps! Merry Christmas Wire, maybe we can find you a job working for the Romney campaign next year!

    December 24, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. jimatmadison

    I think Newt was planning on being anointed Emeror for Life by popular acclamation.

    December 24, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. Steadfast

    This is what happens when a book tour suddenly becomes a viable campaign. Newt never expected to put any effort in to it because he never expected to do well. It was all about selling books and videos. Every campaign stop was a book signing or a video screening. He got caught. If it had ever been a serious campaign effort the signatures would have been gathered ages ago. The last minute effort is a reflection that he never expected to do well. Instead of gathering signatures, he was the one putting signatures on his book at every stop. So maybe he deserves to lose and go back to his book tour. I want a candidate who wants to win, who can win, who will win. Newt can't.

    December 24, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. jms58

    This is the same neanderthal that would have judges arrested if he did not agree with their ruling.

    December 24, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. Moose

    Poor Nooter Pooter. How does voter suppression taste??

    December 24, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    The "Big Thinker", "The Ideals Guy"....however, he is not "The Punctual Guy!"

    December 24, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  18. Reggie from LA

    “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..." Why is there a slight smell of skunk in that comment. Wouldn't that be the height of favoritism and fear. To achieve an exception that would fly in the face of all that "integrity".

    December 24, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. Newt's over

    Lost ballot in Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, close to lose in NH. Toast!

    December 24, 2011 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  20. Larry L

    They can't even run a primary. How could they run a nation?

    December 24, 2011 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. Larry Moniz

    So how did a political insider like Gingrich NOT know he couldn't have a write-in campaign in the state where he lives? What's he doing, running a dumb and dumber contest with Perry?

    December 24, 2011 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  22. Dennis Price

    I love it. This is Presidential Primary 101 and Newt got a big fat "F". For a guy who thinks he is so smart he isn't showing them today. Plus, he shows a complete lack of knowledge about Virginia election laws by not knowing that you can't write-in names on thew primary ballot. Way to go Newt. Are you sure you live in this state?

    December 24, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. Mike Alcorn

    Merry CHRISTmas! May God bless you all!

    December 24, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  24. ahetch

    Gingrich never intended to become the president. It was and always will be his book sales. Amazing what people will buy with their hard earned money.

    December 24, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. Bigwilliestyles

    This is what happens to people like gingrich, who fall in love with the sound of their own voice, hearing the clatter of their verbiage as the applause of the masses, while neglecting the day to day infrastructure work that real progress is dependent upon. Nice job bonehead.

    December 24, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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