Former Congressman Virgil Goode of Franklin County has submitted more than 20,000 petition signatures to get on Virginia’s ballot as the Constitution Party’s presidential candidate, but will have to wait until after Labor Day for certification from the state board of elections.
The board earlier this month asked Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office to investigate possible irregularities with some of Goode’s petitions, but it remains unclear whether the matter will keep Goode off the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. The state board will meet Sept. 4 to certify petitions submitted by third-party and independent candidates.
Today was the deadline for third-party and independent candidates to file petitions with the state board of elections. Those candidates must collect signatures from at least 10,000 qualified voters, including at least 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. The state board sends the petitions to local registrars for verification before certifying candidates for the ballot.
Goode said today that he submitted more than 20,000 signatures on Wednesday and collected at least 1,000 in 10 congressional districts.The former state senator and congressman said he doesn’t believe a Virginia candidate has been denied ballot access after submitting as many signatures.
“We’re hopeful, but we’ll find out on Sept. 4th for sure,” he said.
Goode said Republicans mounted a challenge that kept the Constitution Party off the ballot in Pennsylvania, even though more than 34,000 petition signatures were submitted.
“I’m sure they are looking not just there but in every state they can,” Goode said.
Virginia’s elections board asked for an investigation of some of Goode’s petitions after a review that originated with the voting registrar in Alexandria, who spotted problems with petitions compiled by a single circulator. A state board of elections officials said it appeared that numerous petition entries submitted by the circulator were filled out by the same person.
Goode said earlier this month that members of the Independent Green party were collecting petition signatures for him in three Northern Virginia congressional districts, including the one that covers Alexandria. But state officials have told him nothing about irregularities with any of his petitions, he reiterated today.
State board of elections secretary Donald Palmer said Thursday that he could not comment on the case because of the ongoing investigation. The state board confirmed this evening that the Libertarian Party and Green Party also filed petitions to get on the presidential ballot.
Goode said today that he has qualified for the ballot in about 25 states, “give or take a few,” including battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico. He also has qualified as a write-in candidate in several states, he said.
But Goode — who has been elected as a Democrat, an independent and a Republican — arguably could have the greatest impact in his home state, where President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race. Goode said he doesn’t buy the argument that he could pull enough conservative votes away from Romney to tip a close race to Obama.
“If we get on the ballot, I think we’ll get votes from people who voted for Obama last time and people who voted for [Republican John] McCain last time,” Goode said.
Goode has pledged to take no more than $200 from any individual campaign donor and won’t take money from political action committees.
“What is driving both the Democratic message and the Republican message is the huge amount of money behind them,” Goode said. “You’ve gotten the really heavy hitters weighing in on both sides. And a lot of persons, I think, are saying. ‘This might be the year that we reject big money and we go with a grass roots candidate who is not taking PAC money.’”
– Michael Sluss