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Judge dismisses Democratic suit against elections officials who let Freitas, Good qualify for ballot
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Judge dismisses Democratic suit against elections officials who let Freitas, Good qualify for ballot

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A Richmond judge has dismissed a suit by an organization that seeks to elect Democrats to Congress, finding that the State Board of Elections acted within its powers when it let a number of congressional candidates, including Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, qualify for the November ballot after they missed filing deadlines.

Circuit Court Judge Joi Jeter Taylor found that the action “is valid, and the State Board of Elections did not exceed its authority by granting the extension.”

The Board of Elections, which has a Democratic majority, gave leniency to eight candidates who did not meet the June 9 deadline to file a form with the Department of Elections to qualify for the general election ballot.

The panel voted 2-1 last month to grant the extensions, with Chairman Bob Brink, a Democrat who served in the House of Delegates from 1998 to 2014, casting the tiebreaking vote. Brink said he did so after “reluctantly” seconding a motion from Vice Chairman John O’Bannon, the lone Republican on the board.

Bob Good, the Republican nominee in the 5th District, received an extension. So did four of the six Republicans vying at the time to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, in November. That group included Freitas, who went on to secure the nomination at the 7th District GOP convention in Doswell.

Democrat Nicholas Betts, who is running against Rep. Ben Cline, R-6th, also received an extension.

In the suit, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asked that the candidates not be allowed to appear on the November ballot, which would have substantially benefited Democrats in the 5th District — in which Good faces Democrat Cameron Webb, and in the 7th District contest.

The lawsuit asserted that the Board of Elections exceeded “its statutory authority” and upended the state’s “clear and important election laws, effectively waiving the Deadline without any legal authority to do so.”

But the judge said state code is “clear and unambiguous” on the matter and that the plaintiffs failed to “state facts on which relief can be granted.”

The section of state law the judge cited specifies that “The State Board may grant an extension of any deadline for filing either or both written statements and shall notify all candidates who have not filed their statements of the extension.”

acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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