RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry filed an emergency order Wednesday in federal court requiring Virginia’s Board of Elections to place his name on the ballot for the state Republican presidential primary.
Perry failed last week to meet Virginia’s requirements that each candidate receive 10,000 signatures of registered voters, with 400 from each of its 11 congressional districts. On Tuesday, he filed a lawsuit against the State Board of Elections and Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins.
On Wednesday, Perry filed an emergency motion in U.S. District Court in Richmond asking for an injunction ordering the State Board of Elections to include his name on the ballot for the March 6 primary. He asked the judge to make a decision soon because the deadline to print ballots was in the next few weeks.
Newt Gingrich as well as Perry came short of the signatures required to be certified as candidates. Only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas met the requirement. Other candidates did not submit signatures.
Perry claims Virginia’s requirements are unconstitutional because they violate his freedoms of speech and association. He also challenges the part of Virginia’s law that says signatures must be gathered by a state resident, claiming that the requirements “restrict the number of message carriers” and even prevents him from soliciting signatures for his own campaign.
Perry claimed the “overly burdensome and unconstitutional requirements” prevented him from collecting enough signatures to be certified as a candidate. He submitted 6,000 signatures on the Dec. 22 deadline.
“The Commonwealth will not be harmed by the issuance of an injunction against the enforcement of the state-residency requirement,” the motion reads. “Indeed, the only harm that Commonwealth will suffer is in being restrained from maintaining a law that is likely to be found unconstitutional. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, are likely to suffer irreparable injury.”
Perry also asked that a judge prevent the board from drawing names to determine placement on the ballot, but that occurred during a meeting earlier Wednesday. Paul’s name will appear above Romney’s on the ballot.
The board referred all questions to the Attorney General’s Office, which did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Mullins, the state GOP chairman, said he was simply doing his job.
“As chairman, my responsibility is to certify candidates who meet the ballot access requirements set forth in Virginia statutes,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I complied with Virginia law by certifying the candidates who met the statutory requirements by 5 p.m. yesterday”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)