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ACLU Va files suit against voting law

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Did you know that if someone who is not a member of a major political party wants to be on the presidential ballot in Virginia, they have to have the signatures of 10,000 Virginia residents on a petition?

And did you know that according to state law, the people circulating that petition have to be Virginia residents?

The ACLU Va says that’s unconstitutional. 

The organization is filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian party of Virginia and a man named Darryl Bonner.  Bonner is a resident of Pennsylvania.  He, like the ACLU, believes Virginia’s law banning people from out of state to help get a presidential candidate on the ballot needs to be challenged.

That state requirement says only Virginians can get the 10,000, including at least 400 from each of the state’s eleven congressional districts, on a petition.

The suit asks the law be changed so organizations like the Libertarian party can use out-of-state residents to help. 

Rebecca Glenberg, Legal Director of ACLU of Virginia says the state’s voting laws are some of the toughest in the nation already, but this rule infringes on the right of free speech and freedom of association rights.

“We feel this is an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech right of candidates of parties trying to get them on the ballot and the petition circulators who are trying to come to Virginia to promote their point of view”, said Glenberg.

You might remember that former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry tried to fight a similar law that says only Virginia residents could petition a candidate to be on the Republican primary ballot.  The court determined Perry filed the suit too late in the campaign process.  But it did open the door for this lawsuit for the Libertarian party which is hoping they can get a ruling before the August 24, 2012 deadline to, presumably, get Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul on the ballot.

A spokesperson for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office is quoted as saying ‘we have not yet seen the suit papers, but we plan to vigorously defend the law.’