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Petition circulating to allow write-ins in Va. primary

Tuesday - 1/17/2012, 5:33pm  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - An online petition drive has been launched to change Virginia's election laws so that more candidates can get on the March 6 primary ballot.

A federal court ruled on Tuesday against requests by several candidates who did not meet the 10,000 signature requirement to get on the ballot.

But that has not stopped some tea party activists from starting a petition drive to allow write-ins instead.

Jon Moseley, from Fairfax County, says activists want to rush emergency legislation, SB-510, already introduced by Sen. Frank Wagner,R-Virginia Beach.

"We're asking Governor McDonnell to write-in their choice on the ballot," says Moseley. "People think there's just gonna be a large scale non-involvement this time around."

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot by getting the needed signatures. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have sued claiming the state's law is unconstitutional.

On Friday U.S. District Judge John Gibney said that a provision allowing only Virginia residents to circulate candidate petitions is probably unconstitutional. But he ruled that plaintiffs waited too late to challenge the law.

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected his appeal on Tuesday.

The attorney general said in court papers Sunday that the constitutionally sound signature requirement, not the residency restriction, kept Perry off the ballot.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)