The District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Monday ordered the state’s local electoral boards not to start mailing absentee ballots for the March 6 Republican primary, a promising sign for the four GOP candidates who are suing for ballot access in the state after failing to meet requirements.
A letter from the court to Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum informed the candidates that local electoral boards have been instructed to refrain from mailing out the ballots until after the scheduled Jan. 13 hearing for the lawsuit, originally filed by the Perry campaign.
The Texas governor sued the state of Virginia after failing to turn in the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on the GOP primary ballot, arguing that the state’s requirements were overly burdensome and his absence from the ballot would disenfranchise his supporters in the state.
Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum, facing similar fates, joined Perry’s legal challenge. Their case was temporarily bolstered on Saturday when Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced he was going to file emergency legislation to have the law changed, but he changed his position the next day.
The news was welcomed by Perry’s campaign, which informed CBS News/National Journal of the court’s order. “This is a positive development for the presidential candidates and the citizens of Virginia and we look forward to the hearing on January 13th,” Perry communications director Ray Sullivan said in a statement.
Pending a January 13 hearing about the fate of the four candidates, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will appear on the ballot in the primary.