Judge Chips Away at Virginia’s Duopoly Election LawsSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Wed, 08/01/2012 - 19:10
On Monday, a federal judge in Richmond invalidated a Virginia law that prevents non-Virginia residents from circulating petitions to get third-party presidential candidates on the general election ballot. The Libertarian Party of Virginia and one of its paid petition circulators, New York resident Darryl Bonner, sued the three members of the Virginia State Board of Elections, claiming the law was unconstitutional. In a brief, persuasive opinion, Judge John A. Gibney, a Democrat appointed to the bench in 2010 by Barack Obama, agreed with the party and Bonner that the out-of-state ban violated the federal Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Like most states, Virginia discriminates in favor of established political parties with respect to ballot access. Current Virginia law grants automatic access to any political party that received 10 percent of the votes cast for any statewide office in the preceding election. Thus, only the Democratic and Republican party candidates may appear on the 2012 general election ballot without any additional work. Any other political party must go through a petitioning process.