Waive Petition Requirement for Virginia Elections

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The Green Party of Virginia (GPVA) and independent candidates for local offices, hereby make 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. The GPVA is 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 and independent candidates 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. 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's 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.

Independent candidates should not be denied their right to run for office either. Independent candidates for local offices are required to turn in signatures by June 9, which falls within the Governor's stay-at-home order. It is impossible for these candidates to meet that deadline and to comply with the Governor's executive order. Independent candidates should not be excluded from the ballot merely for following the law. Virginia voters deserve to have a democratic choice of candidates on the ballot at every level of government.

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.

Sincerely,

Tina Rockett, GPVA Co-Chair

Sid Smith, GPVA General Secretary

Ryan Wesdock, GPVA Press Secretary

Kiesha Preston, Independent Candidate for Roanoke City Council

Kyle Roberts, Independent Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives

Dianne Blais, Green Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives