Omari Faulkner, a Republican living in Loudoun County, has filed a lawsuit against Virginia election officials claiming it is impossible for him to collect the 10,000 signatures required to be on the June 9th primary ballot because of the COVID-19 virus restrictions. The deadline for filing the signatures is March 26th at 5:00 pm.
From the VirginiaMercury.com:
The mandates that have been in place for the last few weeks to protect public health directly affected a campaign’s ability to contact individuals to obtain their signatures,” the Faulkner campaign said in a written statement. “With group activity limited to no more than 10 individuals and nearly all businesses closed, our First Amendment right to ballot access has been compromised.”
Social distancing would also prevent any candidate from asking for signatures.
Daniel Gade, another Republican candidate for Senate, has already filed with 17,000 ballot signatures, qualifying him to be on the ballot in June. Thomas Speciale has also qualified. Both candidates have passed the RPV’s pre-check of signatures.
Faulkner’s campaign said they have 3,769 signatures. They are asking the courts to lower the threshold from 10,000 required signatures to 3,500. As of now, under the current rules, Faulkner would not qualify to be on the ballot in June.
More from the Virginia Mercury:
Faulkner’s lawsuit — which names the Virginia Department of Elections, the State Board of Elections and the RPV as defendants — notes that election officials are already encouraging voters to cast absentee ballots in upcoming elections for public health reasons.
“The fact that State Defendants are encouraging voters to vote absentee and not travel to the polls insinuates that it is contrary to the health of Virginians to come into close contact with others,” the lawsuit states. “Virginia cannot say that for the health of voters, do not vote in person but still demand that Plaintiffs still send volunteers out to neighborhoods and businesses and collect signatures in person.”
Attorney General Mark Herring has denied Faulkner’s request for the state to pay his attorney’s fees but has not commented on the rest of his lawsuit.
Faulkner is being represented by state senator Jill Vogel’s (R-Fauquier) law firm, Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky.
Read more here.