This morning at 8:00 am, LPVA chairman Chuck Moulton, Johnson for President attorney Alicia Dearn, and I attended the meeting of the State Board of Elections in Richmond, VA.
This meeting was intended to be mainly to decide what order the political parties will have on the ballot:
However, as you may remember from our previous messages, accomplice lawyers for the Republican Party of Virginia wrote a letter to the Board asking to have their objections to our petitions heard. The Republicans object to the inclusion of the Libertarian and Constitution parties on the ballot AT ALL!
Technically speaking, hearing such objections was outside of the purview of the Board (there is no statutory authority for the Board to withhold ballot status from candidates or groups that have met all of the published requirements); and there is an argument to be made that the Board chairman Charles E. Judd should have ruled consideration of the Republican complaints as "out of order", and thus dispensed with it entirely.
However, he did not. Three items had been added to the agenda provided at the meeting. The first two items were to hear Republican objections to 1) the Libertarian Party petition and 2) the Constitution Party petition, the third was to hear comments from the Libertarian and Constitution parties in response.
LPVA's Moulton spoke to some of the issues raised, as did Ms. Dearn and several representatives of the Constitution Party (including candidate Goode himself).
In my view, the Republicans abused the time of everyone in attendance, with objections that boiled down to alleging crimes where none existed. For instance, they claimed that when a notary notarizes a petition form, only the notary himself can write down the notarial statement. For instance, the following is the notarial statement on the presidential petition:
The foregoing instrument was subscribed and sworn before me this
________ day of ____________________________ , 20 ____ , by
Check it out at the bottom of page 3:
So if no one else can "help write the notarial statement", then the words preprinted on the sheet (eg "The foregoing instrument was subscribed and sworn before me this..." should not be there either. After all, the notary didn't write it!
Indeed, many years ago when I was a notary, I specifically asked the Notary Director (see http://www.common... ) at the time if it was permissible to use pre-inked stamps to fill in the common blanks, and I was told "yes". Notaries in Virginia often had a pre-inked stamp just for the "DATE NOTARY COMMISSION EXPIRES" blank. Are we to believe then that all documents notarized in Virginia with such a stamp are invalid?
In short, the high-dollar Ivy League-educated Republican lawyers conjured up several similar chimerical definitions of petition fraud and submitted a binder full of specific allegations based on their fantasies.
Apparently a law degree doesn't impart a grasp of common sense.
A few of their claims were actually correct -- such as a few dozen people who signed more than one petition for the same group. However, those signatures had already been deducted by State Board of Elections staff. When staff checks a set of petitions, they mark the record of each signing voter, so that if their signature is encountered again, they know that person has already been counted previously.
Anyway, as the meeting continued, Chairman Judd called upon the Assistant AG in attendance at the meeting for his opinion, and he said essentially what our position has been all along: that the Elections Board was there to decide ballot order, and that there was no statutory authority for the Board to withhold ballot status for groups that had submitted sufficient signatures and paperwork [keep in mind I am summarizing or paraphrasing his remarks].
Eventually the Board moved to ask Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office to investigate the Republicans' claims. LPVA chair Moulton asked Judd to clarify if the Libertarian Party would be investigated also. I was listening, but the answer seemed a bit fuzzy -- but it appeared to me that he indicated it was the Constitution Party petition by itself that was being considered for further investigation.
The Board then moved to establish the ballot order for the three alternative parties. The names of each group were written on small pieces of paper, placed in identical 35mm film canisters, mixed up, and then opened one at a time, with the first one being the group which would appear on the 3rd ballot line after the R's and D's. The ballot order for all parties was thus fixed:
Line 1: Republicans
Line 2: Democrats
Line 3: Constitution
Line 4: Libertarian
Line 5: Green
Just before the meeting closed, I asked Chairman Judd to specify if there were any other meetings scheduled of the Board between this one and their next regular meeting. I wanted to get something on the record so that if they do hold a "special" meeting to revisit the topic, there's less chance of an ambush.
He said there would be a meeting next week to certify the election results in the special elections, but nothing else until the next regular meeting.
And that was it.
I left with some concerns about the near future, but we are forced to wait for the next move on the part of the Republican lawyers.
Perhaps we should start getting copies of every Republican primary petition, and do what they did to us. I wonder how these petty tyrants would like it?
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Marc Montoni, Secretary
Libertarian Party of Virginia
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