Rutherford Institute Questions Fairness of Ballot Law - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rutherford Institute Questions Fairness of Ballot Law

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The Rutherford Institute is calling a longtime Virginia election law into question.

The institute has filed a First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of several Virginia libertarian candidates regarding ballot placement. The 17-page lawsuit claims Democrat and Republican candidates' placement on the ballot gives them an unfair advantage over those in minor parties.

This lawsuit, filed on behalf of Robert Sarvis and other libertarian candidates, challenges an old state Board of Elections law that requires major party candidates to have higher spots on a ballot.

"The way it is now is it boils down to very large parties that have huge corporate investments that I think leaves out the average man,” said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.

Whitehead says this law gives those candidates an unfair advantage over others and wants it struck down. "These people want a choice they want to be treated fairly under our constitution and the laws of Virginia,” he said.

Robert Sarvis did well in last year's race for governor, and Whitehead says ballot placement could have made an even bigger difference. A member of the Charlottesville Dems says she's interested to see what happens.

"They could decide it always needs to be alphabetical. Then we'd have a lot of people who say that isn't fair,” said Erin Monaghan, co-chair of the Charlottesville Democratic Committee.

But Monaghan hopes the courts can come to the best solution. "There's always going to be pluses and minuses as people seek the most fair solution,” she said.

In the end, Whitehead says it all comes down to sending the right message. “It says in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. I think that should be happening at the ballot booth as well,” he said.

Whitehead says he hopes the law can be changed before Election Day rolls around.

Suzanne Coffey, a member of the Albemarle GOP, tells NBC29 she also wants to see a change and hopes the ballot will be in random order without party affiliations.

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