Electronic system allows voters to sign petitions for candidates to get on Democratic primary ballot
Free Press staff report | 3/11/2021, 6 p.m.
Signing a statewide candidate’s petition to get on the June 8 Democratic primary ballot just got extremely easy for registered voters.
No need to leave home.
Thanks to the Democratic committees in Fairfax County and Williamsburg, any voter can sign a petition in about 30 seconds via computer or cell phone for one or more statewide candidates seeking to run for the primary.
The instructions are simple: Just fill in your name and address on the electronic form, check the boxes for the candidates whose petitions you are signing, print your name in the signature box, include the last four digits of your Social Security number to enable verification and hit send.
The program generates emails with completed petitions that go to the candidates you selected.
To be on the ballot, candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general must file 2,000 valid signatures by the deadline, 5 p.m. Thursday, March 25. At least 50 signatures must come from each of the 11 congressional districts.
Two candidates, Manassas Delegate Lee J. Carter, who is running for governor, and Paul Goldman of Richmond, who is running for lieutenant governor, made it possible through a lawsuit.
Under a court-approved settlement with the state attorney general’s office, their suit allowed the use of electronic petitions and cut the number of petition signatures needed from 10,000 to 2,000.
However, the state Department of Elections has not posted a way for voters to sign petitions electronically.
Enter the two political committees.
In Fairfax, Bryan Graham, chair of the Fairfax committee, is credited with fixing that problem by creating an online website that meets state requirements and prevents candidates from having to go door-to-door or hold in-person events amid the pandemic.
“I just always want people to have access to the democratic process, and I saw this as an opportunity,” Mr. Graham said.
The Williamsburg-James City County Democratic Committee has done the same.
In the wake of this effort, Democratic officials are encouraging voters who use this system to check all the candidate boxes so that all of the declared candidates can meet the petition requirements.