Va. Democratic candidates win lawsuit to allow electronic petition signatures

Harrisonburg City Hall voting.
Harrisonburg City Hall voting.(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 6:33 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some Democratic candidates wanting to stay safe during the election process won a lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Elections and the Virginia State Board of Elections.

That lawsuit will now allow House of Delegate candidates to collect petition signatures electronically. Before this change, petitions for local candidates need to be signed in-person and with a witness. 125 signatures need to be collected.

The lawsuit was filed by Jennifer Adeli, Delegate Lee Carter, Patrick Fritz, Karishma Mehta, Jennifer Kitchen and Dr. Mark Downey.

Jennifer Kitchen is running to represent the Commonwealth’s 25th District, which includes parts of Rockingham and Augusta counties, in Virginia’s House of Delegates this year.

She said this change will let all individuals be a part of the democratic process.

“It’s a great feeling to have had this big of an impact this quickly on the process. It’s great for accessibility, access. I’ve had a lot of folks reach out from different parts of the disability community, actually, who are really excited that accessibility is something that’s on anyone’s radar,” Kitchen said.

Several weeks ago, allowing digital signatures was first granted to statewide candidates, but Kitchen said it is not yet for everyone.

“I do wish this had been extended to all candidates for all offices,” Kitchen said. “Unfortunately, this does not include constitutional officers.”

Kitchen said plaintiffs hope to have their digital petitions live and ready to sign online by early next week.

“Instead of having to print that and then have it notarized, if folks use the last four digits of their social security number when they fill out the form and sign it, then a notary is not required,” Kitchen said.

For those without internet access, Kitchen said drive-thru events are being held.

There is one on Feb. 13 at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Democratic Headquarters from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and one on Feb. 27 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Augusta County Government Center.

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