Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have failed to turn in enough valid signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot in Virginia, a situation with at least two levels of irony to it. The first is that the Gingrich campaign is complaining about exactly the kind of measures that Republicans always advocate in their desire to make voting as difficult as possible, as Politico reports:
A Gingrich campaign official prior to the move by the Republican Party of Virginia said the problem is how the rules are set up, arguing that the party is, for apparently the first time, cross-checking the addresses that signature-givers gave against the electronic voter database file for accuracies. A name without a proper address match was tossed, the official said.
“What one needs to ask is ‘what percentage of valid, registered voters self-identify a current address that matches voter rolls that the voter might not have updated since 2008”? Are you 100% certain that your address you and all of your neighbors matches current voter rolls? It strikes me that this is not an accurate means to identify registered voters signing for ANY candidate, not just Gingrich,” the official wrote.
And yet that is exactly the basis for innumerable accusations of voter fraud by Republican poll challengers during every election. In any state, there are going to be lots of people who have moved in the few months, weeks or even days before an election. Republican vote challengers at the polling places routinely try to get voters rejected as fraudulent because of that. Thousands, probably tens of thousands, of voters are forced to submit provisional ballots after such challenges, which may simply not get counted because the vote totals are reported long before the challenge is settled.
They also use the exact same basis — comparing the official Qualified Voter File list to the names and addresses — to claim later that in a given state there were X number of possibly fraudulent votes cast in the last election, thus proving the need to purge the voter rolls and combat voter fraud. How ironic that they now complain about the same standards being applied in a primary.
The second level of irony is that both the Perry and Gingrich campaigns turned in many more than the 10,000 signatures required and still didn’t have enough valid ones once they were vetted. Remember all the screaming in 2008 about ACORN canvassers turning in invalid voter registration applications along with lots of good ones? That is absolutely inevitable in any canvassing operation. That’s why anyone who has ever participated in a petition drive knows that the goal is always to turn in 20-25% more signatures than needed, because a significant percentage of them will always be thrown out as invalid. When it happens in liberal campaigns, it’s a terrible evil and proof that they are trying to destroy the integrity of elections. When conservative groups have the same problem, it’s unfortunate — and proof that the campaign has been victimized. How amusing.