Republican candidates Corey Stewart for governor and Bryce Reeves for lieutenant governor sent staffers to wait for up to 60 hours due to a misunderstanding of Virginia election law, according to a Tuesday report from the Washington Post.
Both candidates were advised that sitting at the election office for days in advance to file their paperwork before their opponents would enable their name to occupy the top of the ballot.
Although the state code governing the matter states that the person who files first gets their name at the top of the ballot, it also states that if two or more candidates filed their name “simultaneously,” there would be a separate lottery that would select the name at the top of the ticket.
Since the state board of elections accepts paperwork starting at noon on March 13, any opposing campaign only has to show up within an hour of that time in order to qualify for the “simultaneous” lottery rule.
“I apologize to the Reeves campaign and the other folks that were there this morning,” State Elections Commissioner Ed Cortés said. “They were out there based on something our staff told them.”
Stewart quickly came out swinging, insisting that the decision was the result of some political maneuvering on that part of Republican challenger Ed Gillespie.
“Ed Gillespie and his elitist team of lawyers are manipulating the Virginia Board of Elections in a last-ditch, rule-breaking effort to have Ed’s name placed at the top of the ballot,” Stewart said in a news release.
“The law is clear,” Gillespie spokesman Matt Moran responded. “Chairman Stewart never should have taken bad advice from one of Terry McAuliffe’s lawyers, but now I guess we know why the Trump campaign fired him for incompetence.”
Reeves reported his campaign was consulting attorneys about a potential legal challenge to the law.
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