The State Board of Elections declined Wednesday to grant an extension for eight House of Delegates candidates who failed to turn in the proper paperwork to appear on the June 8 primary ballot.
Several candidates spoke in front of the board on Wednesday to make their case for the extension. Matt Rogers, who is primarying Patrick Hope (D) in House District 47, and Richmond City Councilor Michael Jones, who is primarying Betsy Carr (D) in House District 69, both pleaded with the committee to grant an extension. Other House candidates that missed the deadline include Julie Perry, Jordan Gray, Sarah Deitz, Randall Wolf, Caitlyn Coakley and Cydny Neville.
Delegate Ibraheem Samirah would make the ninth addition to the list, but the Department of Elections allegedly received his paperwork today with a postmark prior to the deadline. The staff was not able to review the materials prior to the meeting, but the board treated him like a candidate on Wednesday on the condition that if his paperwork fails to comply with the requirements, his name will be removed from the ballot. “We have documentation that will prove we followed the steps by USPS Certified Mail as requested and it was delivered this morning at 11:02,” said a spokesperson for Samirah Wednesday after the meeting.
While the board was considering the extension, Chris Piper, the commissioner of the Department of Elections (DoE), commended his staff for the work have been doing this year — noting that he believes the candidates did not miss the filing deadline due to a lack of effort from the DoE to inform all of the candidates of the requirements.
When the time arrived for a motion to be made for a vote to grant an extension, no such action was taken. With no vote, there is no extension.
The candidates have not given up hope yet, however, as this debate will likely spill over into the court system — especially since an extension was granted in 2020 for candidates that failed to turn in the proper paperwork to appear on the November ballot. Republican congressional candidates Nick Freitas and Bob Good were on the list of candidates that needed and were eventually granted an extension last year.
Rogers plans to continue campaigning while he figures out his next steps. “I am continuing to talk with voters here in the 47th District to give the people of Arlington a choice as I have since last June when I first filed my paperwork in a proper and timely fashion despite unprecedented times in our country,” Rogers said in an interview Wednesday night. “I am exploring all options and fully intend to be on the ballot.”
Jones blamed the Richmond City registrar for the problem. “Obstacles such as these shouldn’t be placed in front of candidates,” Jones said in a statement Wednesday. “We asked the right questions, went to election officials in the registrar’s office and were told that our filing was intact. In lieu of the tone of today’s SBE meeting, to learn that incumbents were notified by the DPVA of incomplete paperwork on March 24th further exemplifies the need for transparency and equity standards within our election process.”
It is not the responsibility of the local registrar to collect or forward these documents for candidates, however. The documentation is due to the Department of Elections for General Assembly and statewide elections, with no mechanism in place for registrars to be a delivery service.
“We are going to investigate the extensions granted to candidates in the past which have not been granted to us at this time and examine equity within the decision making process,” Jones continued in his statement Wednesday night. “The needs of our community are great and it is truly disheartening to see that the registered voters who signed our circulated petition may not have their voices heard.”
The Democratic primary election will take place on June 8.
*After this story was first published, the chair of the Staunton Democratic Committee contacted Virginia Scope to state that Randall Wolf also submitted the forms by mail. It is unclear if the SBE has received the documents yet. He has no primary challenger, however. The local party could just find another way to nominate him for the general election if they need to. Additionally, Samirah tweeted Thursday morning that his forms have been accepted and he will be on the primary ballot in June.
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