It’s Time to Ease Virginia’s Burdensome Ballot Access Requirements

Right Way Forward Virginia promotes a free-market economy and opposes special privileges and subsidies for politically-connected firms and corporations. Competition and innovation in a market economy are the engines of economic growth, job creation, and improvements in the quality of life of the citizenry.

We likewise support competition and innovation in the marketplace of ideas. Burdensome ballot access requirements unfairly privilege large political parties, just as burdensome economic regulations privilege established firms and inhibit the creation and growth of new potential competitors. Such ballot access requirements are the political equivalent of economic rent-seeking. The government should not privilege the powerful at the expense of the powerless, or incumbents at the expense of challengers.

That’s why we support HB82, introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), which would enable any political party which has achieved at least five percent of the vote for any statewide race in either of the two preceding elections to be recognized as an established political party and avoid burdensome petitioning requirements to gain ballot access.

The current such threshold is ten percent, significantly higher than any of Virginia’s neighboring states and among the highest in the nation. Virginia’s petitioning requirements are also among the most stringent in the country. Indeed, this was recognized by the Virginia General Assembly following the 2012 Republican presidential primary election, in which only two candidates (Mitt Romney and Ron Paul) overcame the 10,000-signature threshold to appear on the ballot. The Virginia General Assembly subsequently reduced the number of valid signatures required to gain access to the ballot in presidential elections, but has yet to also do so for statewide elections.

We encourage libertarians (of whatever party) and allies to contact your elected officials in Richmond and urge them to support HB82.