Remove Ballot Access Barriers in Virginia

Remove Ballot Access Barriers in Virginia

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Kiesha Preston started this petition to Virginia State Legislators

Earlier this year I wrote a Domestic Violence Housing bill, which was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam in March. After securing that legislative win and then being invited to speak in the US House of Representatives, I felt empowered to run for local office but that feeling of empowerment quickly diminished when I found myself unable to participate in my party's primary due to a $750 filing fee.

My choices became, stay and fight as an independent, or drop out of the race, and because I was taught to never let my economic status hold me back, I chose to stay and fight which exposed me to other barriers.

As an independent, I was required to collect petition signatures to access the ballot but during a pandemic, with a stay at home order, that was impossible to do.

I was forced to file a lawsuit, which I won, in order to run for office; and while I did not win my race, I walked away with nearly 10,000 votes.

That's 10,000 people who wanted me on the ballot and almost had that choice denied to them because Virginia has some of the most restrictive ballot access requirements in the Nation.

The fees required for party primaries create barriers that shouldn't exist and other states have already recognized this and started the process of doing away with them.

There are 17 states that have no fees at all, and of the states that do still have fees,

Montana's fee is $15
Missouri's fee is $50
Alaska's fee is $30
New Hampshire's fee is $2
Wyoming's fee is $25

and then we have Virginia..where the fee can fluctuate depending on where you live and I was expected to pay $750 for a party primary in Roanoke City

Our $750 compared to New Hampshire's $2 is embarrassing, absurd, and it is discriminatory toward low income, but otherwise qualified candidates.

As this year comes to a close and we prepare for the next legislative session I would like to ask Virginia State Legislators to consider legislation that removes these barriers by either removing the filing fee requirement entirely, or lowering it to a reasonable and fixed amount that is consistent across the state.

 

 

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At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!