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Cuccinelli now reconsiders call to change ballot access law

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Posted at 10:15 PM, Jan 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-06 22:15:40-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinellireleased a statement that he has reconsidered his position to change Virginia’s ballot access law for the March primary.

Previously, Cuccinellihad planned to file emergency legislation to address the issue. Now the Attorney General said he supports changes to the law, but for future elections only.

Cuccinelli’s office originally told CBS 6 he wanted to allow candidates onto the ballot if the Virginia Board of Elections certifies that a candidate is getting federal matching funds. If they have federal backing, Cuccinelli had said that should be enough to get onto the ballot.

Five Republican Presidential candidates have now filed lawsuits to get onto the ballot in Virginia.

Presidential hopeful Rick Perry first filed a suit after his campaign failed to collect the required 10,000 signatures to be placed on the March 6 primary ballot. Rick Perry was denied an emergency court order to have his name put on Virginia’s Republican primary ballot.

Instead, Federal Circuit Court Judge John A. Gibney set a date to hear arguments on Jan. 13, 2012.

Newt Gingrich also failed to meet the requirement, and attributed the failure to a staffer who collected more than 1,500 signatures of non-registered voters.

Cuccinelli listed several reasons he is reconsidering his original position, one being the preservation of the law.

“A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general,” Cuccinelli said in the release.

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have gotten the necessary signatures to be on the Virginia ballot.

Below are the statements released from the Virginia Attorney General’s office.

“”I obviously feel very strongly that Virginia needs to change its ballot access requirements for our statewide elections. However, after working through different scenarios with Republican and Democratic leaders to attempt to make changes in time for the 2012 Presidential election, my concern grows that we cannot find a way to make such changes fair to the Romney and Paul campaigns that qualified even with Virginia’s burdensome system. A further critical factor that I must consider is that changing the rules midstream is inconsistent with respecting and preserving the rule of law – something I am particularly sensitive to as Virginia’s attorney general.

“My intentions have never focused on which candidates would be benefited or harmed, rather I have focused on what is best for Virginia’s citizens, as hundreds of thousands of Virginians who should have been able to make their choices among the full field of presidential primary contenders have had their number of choices reduced significantly.

“My primary responsibility is to the people of Virginia, and how best to fulfill that responsibility in these particular circumstances has been a very difficult question for me. I believe consistency on the part of public officials is an important attribute. And I believe that Virginians are best served by an attorney general who consistently supports the rule of law. That leads to my conclusion that while I will vigorously support efforts to reduce the hurdles to ballot access in Virginia for all candidates, I will not support efforts to apply such changes to the 2012 Presidential election.

“I do not change position on issues of public policy often or lightly.  But when convinced that my position is wrong, I think it necessary to concede as much and adjust accordingly.”