(RICHMOND, Va.) — Lawyers for Texas Gov. Rick Perry filed papers in federal court in Richmond Tuesday arguing that Virginia’s requirement for petition circulators to be either eligible or registered voters in the state “imposes a severe burden” on Perry’s freedom of speech.
According to court documents, lawyers for Perry argued that the state law requirement is unconstitutional because it “prohibits an otherwise qualified candidate for the Office of President of the United States from circulating his own candidate petitions.”
The lawsuit asks the Court to preclude the enforcement of the provisions and order the certification of Perry as a candidate.
“Gov. Perry greatly respects the citizens and history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and believes Virginia Republicans should have greater access to vote for one of the several candidates for President of the United States,” Perry campaign communications director Ray Sullivan said in a statement.
Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine, says that Perry’s challenge faces “long odds both politically and legally” in part because he filed suit after the filing deadline. On his election law blog, Hasen writes, “This is an emergency of Perry’s (and Gingrich’s) own making. Surely they knew of the requirement earlier.”
Virginia requires that a presidential primary candidate collect signatures from 10,000 qualified voters including at least 400 qualified voters from each congressional district in the state.
Perry was only able to submit 6,000 signatures by the December 22 deadline.
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