It's time to waive ballot petitioning for ballot access
Virginia Ballot Access Petitioning Requirements and COVID-19
The Green Party of Virginia sent the following statement today to the government of Virginia requesting that they waive the petitioning requirement for ballot access in light of the present pandemic.
25 March 2020
Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia
Eileen Filler-Corn, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
Justin Fairfax, President of the Senate of Virginia
Robert H. Brink, Chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections
The Green Party of Virginia (GPVA) hereby makes a formal request and petition to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, the General Assembly, and the Board of Elections to waive the petition of qualified voters requirement for ballot access in light of the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collecting ballot petition signatures requires close physical contact on the part of both voters and petitioners. We are required under state law to obtain at least 5,000 signatures, though experience with having signatures disqualified leads us to aim for double this number. Gathering this many signatures requires hundreds of thousands of contacts, which is neither possible nor responsible given the need for social distancing. Continuing to require these signatures would put petitioners and the general public at greater risk of the coronavirus for many months. It would also be an injustice for third parties who would otherwise obtain ballot access to be excluded simply because ensuring public health and safety also ensures that the arbitrary requirements for obtaining ballot access in Virginia are impossible to satisfy.
In view of successful petitioning by the GPVA in all recent election cycles our party would likely achieve ballot access once again this year if not for the pandemic. We have already made serious efforts to collect petition signatures prior to the state of emergency - efforts which we have halted out of concern for the public health. Failing to waive this requirement would infringe the right of our party to participate in the upcoming election. The state of emergency, restrictions on gatherings, and other limitations designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus should not prevent voters from having a democratic choice at the ballot box this November.
Whereas a state of emergency has been declared by Governor Ralph Northam, we implore the state to alleviate the hardship of petitioning under these extenuating circumstances presented by a pandemic illness and the highly likely resultant loss of ballot access through no fault of our own.
Tina Rockett, GPVA Co-Chair
B. Sidney Smith, GPVA General Secretary
Ryan Wesdock, GPVA Press Secretary