A national organization that seeks to elect Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives is suing Virginia’s Board of Elections after the panel allowed congressional candidates, including five in swing districts, to qualify for the November ballot despite not filing paperwork on time.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed the lawsuit July 14 in Richmond Circuit Court, a week after the state elections board’s split decision. The Board of Elections, which has a Democratic majority, gave leniency to eight candidates who did not meet the June 9 deadline to file a form with the Department of Elections to qualify for the general election ballot.
Bob Good, who is the Republican nominee in the 5th District, received an exception. So did four of the six Republicans vying to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, come November, including Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, who has raised more money than his opponents and also neglected to send the paperwork in on time last year. Democrat Nicholas Betts, who is running against Rep. Ben Cline, R-6th, also received an extension.
The DCCC is asking that the candidates not be allowed to appear on the November ballot, which would substantially benefit Democrats in the 5th and 7th district races.
“Virginia’s election law is clear: to appear on the ballot, you must file before the deadline, or request an extension in a timely fashion. But Bob Good and Nick Freitas did neither,” said DCCC Executive Director Lucinda Guinn in a statement.
“While Bob Good and Nick Freitas may believe that they are above the law of the land, we believe that every Virginian should comply with the laws of the Commonwealth, and that the State Board of Election’s decision was flawed. We will continue to push for that accountability in court.”
Good’s campaign did not return a request for comment July 14. Neither did a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Herring, who represents state agencies and panels in court.
In a statement, Freitas campaign manager Joe Desilets said: “Washington Democrats know that Nick Freitas will defeat Abigail Spanberger in November, which is why they have filed this baseless lawsuit in a transparent attempt to scare Republican Convention Delegates.
“The Virginia Department of Elections has confirmed that Nick Freitas’ filing requirements have been met, and we’re confident that the DCCC’s attempt to disenfranchise 7th District voters will promptly be rejected.”
The lawsuit claims that the Board of Elections exceeded “its statutory authority” and upended the state’s “clear and important election laws, effectively waiving the Deadline without any legal authority to do so.”
“Urgent action is needed to ensure that only qualified candidates are included on Virginia’s ballots in the November 3 general election,” the suit says.
The panel voted 2 to 1 last week to grant the extensions, with Chairman Bob Brink, a Democrat who served in the House of Delegates from 1998-2014, casting the tiebreaking vote. Brink said he did so after “reluctantly” seconding a motion from Vice Chairman John O’Bannon, the lone Republican on the board.