From Del. Lee Carter and Paul Goldman:
Carter and Goldman File Suit to Ensure Safe Petition Circulation Process During COVID-19
Manassas & Richmond, VA – This afternoon, Lieutenant Governor candidate Paul Goldman and Delegate Lee Carter together filed suit in the Circuit Court of Richmond in an effort to ensure the health and safety of candidates, campaign volunteers, healthcare workers, and the public at large during the petition signature collection process for the 2021 statewide primary campaigns.
In the suit, Carter and Goldman ask the Court to reduce the number of signatures required to qualify for the June Democratic primary from 10,000 to 2,000 for candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General and to eliminate the requirement to collect at least 400 signatures in each congressional district.
“UVA’s most recent adaptive model predictions for COVID-19 spread during the petition collection window are frightening,” said Carter. “We’re talking about weekly peaks that could be ten times higher than those we saw this summer.”
“For Delegate Carter and myself, this isn’t about politics, but about people, protecting people, and ensuring that people can safely and fairly exercise their right to have the candidate of their choice on the primary ballot,” Goldman added.
Goldman and Carter also ask the Court to order the implementation of electronic petition signature collection and to declare unconstitutional the ballot placement of primary candidates based on time of filing submission.
The suit cites a March decision by Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant to reduce the signature requirement for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate from 10,000 to 3,500 as requested by candidate Omari Faulkner. In April, a federal U.S. District Court judge in Michigan cited Faulkner in ordering Michigan to reduce its petition requirements and implement an electronic means of petition gathering.
“When I sue to protect the public interest, I think about my friend Henry Howell, and I realize how, in Virginia, he pioneered the public interest lawsuit to level the political playing field and protect the rights of all Virginians,” Goldman said.
“With the worsening pandemic, we cannot allow our petition drives to become superspreader events,” Carter insisted. “The courts recognized this health risk in 2020, and it’s time we apply pandemic standards to the 2021 process before a single person is unnecessarily put in harm’s way.”