In a legal victory of sorts for Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum, the district judge presiding over their lawsuit against the Virginia Board of Elections has blocked local election boards from mailing out absentee ballots.
U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney ordered the State Board of Elections to direct local electoral boards to refrain from mailing out absentee ballots until after he makes a ruling Friday on the candidates’ bid to be included on the March 6 ballot. The hearing is set for Friday morning.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenged Virginia’s ballot access law last month after failing to obtain the voter signatures he needed to qualify, leaving only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul on the ballot.
Fellow Republicans Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman joined the lawsuit last week.
Virginia officials have said absentee ballots needed to be printed by Tuesday so they could be mailed 45 days before the election as required by law. In his order Monday, Gibney said state officials should direct local electoral boards to refrain from ordering any ballots until after Friday’s hearing.
One shouldn’t read too much into this order. As a practical matter, if the judge were to rule in the candidate’s favor on Friday, the absentee ballots would have to be recalled, or trashed, and amended ballots mailed out. The resulting confusion for both the state and the voter can be easily avoided simply by waiting until the issue is resolved.