GOP And The Mystical Signature Adventure
If you hadn’t heard, many of the GOP’s candidates were unable to meet the signature deadline for getting on the VA primary ballot. It isn’t hard to see why, let me give you an outline:
With almost all signature drives, regardless of what they are for, the required number of signatures isn’t met. It’s exceeded. The Maine Political Candidates handbook requires a minimum of 120% of required signatures before submission. The reason is simple, there are always fraudulent signatures. Fraudulent isn’t really the right word, because when people sign petitions in Maine, the forms they sign must be specific to the district the signer lives in.
If I signed a petition in Bangor, my signature wouldn’t count since I live in Augusta. Aside from people accidentally signing in another district, people forget they have signed and sign twice. Also some signatures may be unreadable. So if you simply collect the required number, you can’t qualify, it’s just not possible.
The purpose is to exclude people who don’t really want to run and get only candidates with a realistic chance of commanding a plurality or majority.
Now that is a great idea, and it is very effective. Where VA makes it a mess is they require 10,000 signatures, that’s fine, but they must have at least 400 from each congressional district. That means if you collect 12,000 signatures total, you would just need to fall short by one signature in any of 11 places to be tossed out. It’s not that the method doesn’t make sense, it’s that the burden of this process almost ensures that bad luck will kill candidates that might have been chosen by the voters.
You might say that they should put in more effort, but it must be remembered that signature gathering costs money to accomplish, and understandably no one is going to pour endless resources into the effort.
For my part, I’ll sign anything. I don’t think one can have too many choices when you enter the voting booth.
The VA attorney general is seeking to implement a bill to fix the problem, but I haven’t located the bill text yet to find out whether it really does the job or not. I’ll post it if I find it.