The Old Dominion state’s recent primary news isn’t limited to the fact that its ballots will only have two candidates, though. And it’s not just the fact that its own resident, Newt Gingrich, won’t appear on those ballots, either.
In a decision made yesterday, the Virginia Board of Elections approved a unique proposal that actually restricts its voters in an archaic, if not Kremlin-esque, format. In order to participate in the Mar. 6 presidential primary, voters will have to sign a “loyalty oath,” swearing in writing that in the November General Election they will vote for whichever Republican ultimately wins the party nomination.
And if they don’t? Then those same folks in Virginia (a state that doesn’t register voters with any party to begin with) won’t be allowed to vote that day.
The pledge reads “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”
Can the VAGOP really make such a requirement? Well, yes, but only due to a very new update to its state code that passed earlier this year (Section 24.2-545 of the Code of Virginia).
But that doesn’t mean the requirement is valid, though. After all, the state Board of Elections didn’t make the decision until yesterday, which was only 69 days before the primary election. And, according to that same Section 24.2-545, that wasn’t soon enough.
“The requirements applicable to a party’s primary shall be determined at least 90 days prior to the primary date,” the Code of Virginia reads.
There’s even an elected Republican official who objects to it, too. Delegate Bob Marshall of Virginia’s 13th Dist. offered a written objection in a news release earlier today; “I think this sends the wrong message,” he wrote, adding that oaths are “detested by many good Republicans.”
The pledge is even rather oxymoronic, too, Marshall says. “Virginia’s Republican leadership wants to mandate a loyalty oath when Virginia’s Republican officials are in court fighting the Obamacare mandate?”
Will the “loyalty oath” remain on the books for the March primary? Well, no formal objections have been filed yet, but let’s wait and see.
Virginia election officials have other fish to fry first, after all. Rick Perry filed suit against the state, claiming its candidate petition method (which he and most other GOP candidates failed to complete), is unconstitutional. His case will be heard Jan. 13.