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Voting and Elections

Correspondence with State Board of Elections, Commonwealth of Virginia

To SBE, regarding candidacy for vice president

16 September 2004

Lorraine M. Thompson, Manager
State Board of Elections
200 North Ninth Street, Suite 101
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Ms. Thompson:

I am in receipt of your letter of 23 July 2004 and supporting documents. Having found seven erroneous claims on the first page, I can neither attach any credibility to S.B.E.'s interpretation of the law nor understand why my tax money is being wasted spreading misinformation.

Here are the specific mistakes in the document, "Federal Law, Deadlines and Ballot Access Requirements":

  1. "General Election for President Tuesday November 2, 2004." The election of a president is conducted in December by the Electoral College elected in November. Although many democracies provide for direct election of a president, the federal government with jurisdiction in Virginia is not a democracy but a republic.

  2. "(A) candidate for President . . . Must be a . . . citizen who is at least 35 years of age." A presidential candidate need not reach the age of 35 until the time of inauguration.

  3. "(A) candidate for President . . . Must be a . . . citizen . . . who is a resident of and qualified voter in a State. . . ." A presidential candidate need not be a qualified voter of a state. Instead, the U. S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) allows any natural born citizen of sufficient age and residency to hold the office. Since 1789, anyone living in Virginia or the District of Columbia, whether held as a slave, disenfranchised under segregation, or convicted of a felony, has had the constitutional right to run for president, vice president, or a seat in Congress. No law may supersede the Constitution. Imagine how odd it would be if a resident of Virginia who had been convicted of an act of sodomy could be barred from the ballot of any state, but merely by moving to another state with a wider franchise, would become eligible to run in every state, including Virginia.

  4. "(A) candidate for President . . . Must be a . . . citizen . . . who is a resident of . . . a State other than the State in which the Vice-Presidential candidate is a resident. . . ." A presidential candidate need not live in a different state from any vice-presidential candidate. The U. S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1.) only prohibits electors from casting more than one vote for residents of their own respective states. Electors are free to cast two votes for residents of another state. For example, a Virginia elector is free to vote for two candidates from Texas (whether or not either claims residence in Wyoming). Furthermore, votes cast in November for a ticket with two Virginians can be valid if either moves out of the state before the Electoral College meets.

  5. "(A) candidate for President . . . Obtain a Vice Presidential running mate. . . ." On the contrary, if a presidential candidate, running alone, does nothing more than obtain the voluntary votes of a majority of legitimate electors, that person can become president.

  6. "(A) candidate for President . . . Obtain 2 Electors from the Commonwealth of Virginia at large and 1 Electoral [sic] from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts." Virginia never has more than 13 presidential electors, who take office after the November election. Therefore, John Kerry cannot be expected to obtain any Virginia electors now, because his party last elected them in 1964.

  7. "If they receive the highest number of votes cast at the general election, each elector must vote for the persons named for President and Vice President in the petition at the Electoral College." Electors are free to vote for candidates not named in the petition. An electoral vote cast in 1976 for Ronald Reagan has been recognized as valid. Governor Gilmore would have had no reason to lower the dignity of his chair in urging Virginia's electors in 2000 to vote Republican, against the wishes of three of their districts and a popular plurality across the country, had they been bound by law.

As there is little or no mention in the aforementioned document of anything a vice-presidential candidate must do, I see no reason for me to concern myself further with this document.

The "Joint declaration of intent to be write-in candidates for president and vice-president" instructs a single notary to witness the signatures of two different candidates who may live 3,000 miles apart. It appears that if these people never set foot in the same room, no less in the presence of a notary, they are prohibited from running together. As you may be aware, the Secret Service goes to great lengths to keep distance between former Texas Governor George AWOL Bush (son of the former president) and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, lest they both become targets of a single attack by terrorists. Yet this elaborate security procedure must be compromised merely to satisfy the formal requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Imagine that!

Regardless, I am a candidate for vice-president (as well as for Congress in the sixth district). If the state does not like that, it is free to prosecute me. I look forward to the free publicity. I can only repeat the words of Dirty Harry repeated by Fletch: Go ahead; make my day!

Yours truly,

From SBE, regarding candidacy for General Assembly

Subject: NOT ACCEPTED: Statement of Organization for Your Candidacy
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2007 09:56:25 -0400
From: "Chris Piper"

M_. ____,

This email shall serve notice that the State Board of Elections (SBE) has not accepted your Statement of Organization for your campaign for two reasons:

  1. SBE requires an original, wet signature copy to be submitted. The form that you submitted is a copy.

  2. The name of your committee was listed as "THERE IS NO COMMITTEE". State law requires that any candidate for the General Assembly establish a candidate campaign committee and that the committee's name properly identify the name of the candidate. See 24.2-947.1 subsection C2 of the Code of Virginia. According to policies approved by the State Board, the committee's name must include at least the last name of the candidate. See Summary of Laws and Policies for Candidate Campaign Committees Section 2.2, page 14.

It is important to note that the candidate's committee does not mean that the campaign has a group of people. The committee may comprise of one person. The term "committee" is a general term used to describe the entity through which all funds are received and disbursed. In other words, the committee is the campaign's bank account.

SBE requests that you submit an amended Statement of Organization properly identifying the name of the committee within 10 calendar days of today, July 3, 2007.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Chris Piper
Manager, Campaign Finance Division
State Board of Elections
200 N. 9th St., Suite 101
Richmond, VA 23219

To SBE, replying to previous notice

To: Chris Piper
Subject: Re: NOT ACCEPTED: Statement of Organization for Your Candidacy

Greetings, Mr. Piper:

I have analyzed your correspondence dated July 3 regarding the above-referenced document.

In Item #1, you claim that "SBE requires an original, wet signature copy to be submitted". Surely you are aware that federal law mandates that an electronic facsimile of a document be accepted as original. Furthermore, page 8 of "November 2007 Election Candidacy Requirements For General Assembly" stipulates that the "Statement of Organization for a Candidate" must be filed both with the "State Board of Elections and Electoral Board of the candidate's county or city of residence at the office of the General Registrar". It does not specify that the original go to one destination, the copy to the other. Indeed, I asked the election staff in Franklin County, who said it was up to me whether to send the original or a copy to S.B.E. As I see it, S.B.E. created the ambiguity as to the requirements for original documents. I believe a jury would see the situation that way, also. Nevertheless, you should soon receive a document which I believe to be the original.

In Item #2, you correctly identify the fictitious name I have been compelled to use. I maintain that it does not constitute a committee, which is clearly defined by standard English dictionaries as a group. In this case, there is no group. Therefore, by ordinary definition, there can be no committee. I understand that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of association, so that one can never be forced to establish a committee. (If it matters, I question whether S.B.E. can tell the difference between a committee established by a candidate and one established by supporters with the consent of the candidate.)

You claim that there is a statutory requirement that "that any candidate for the General Assembly establish a candidate campaign committee and that the committee's name properly identify the name of the candidate", citing 24.2-947.1 subsection C2 of the Code of Virginia. The only information I find mentioned in that subsection is "the full name and mailing address for the campaign committee". You have the full fictional name and address of the entity I established at your instruction. It is not a committee, because it is not a group. It apparently has little to do with any campaign, an agressive effort similar to a military action, which a pacifist like me would not initiate. I find no statutory mandate that any entity bear my name. I found no such instructions in the hefty pile of papers from S.B.E. At your instruction, Mr. Piper, I opened a bank account at my own expense. To satisfy the bank's policy, I purchased a Fictitious Name Certificate from Franklin County at my own expense (stating that I intended to transact business under that name, which I had no intention of doing). I obtained an Employer Identification Number under false pretenses, as no employment is involved. Do you now expect me to spend hours of my time and incur the same expenses again, because of S.B.E.'s mistake? It seems a destitute candidate could quickly be rendered penniless at the whim of the Commonwealth. Fortunately, I have cash to spare, but not to waste.

I do not feel I can place my own name on a political entity. The creation of a vanity enterprise is contrary to my cultural ethic as a first-generation Norwegian-American. (Few Scandinavian businesses and brands are named after their founders. For example, Saab is an acronym for "Svenska Aeroplanaktiebolaget", meaning Swedish Aeroplane Limited. Rather than references to specific persons or anatomy, Lego and Volvo simply mean "I assemble" and "I roll" in Latin.)

I understand 24.2-947.1 to require that the candidate specify, but not necessarily establish, a committee. The law appears to allow the candidate to use a committee established by another individual or already in existence. Are you telling me that S.B.E. expects every incumbent in the House of Delegates who runs for re-election to establish a new committee every two years? If not, there seems to be selective application of the policy.

You suggest I consult the "Summary of Laws and Policies for Candidate Campaign Committees" for more information. Where is that available? My Google search turned up no posting of a document by that name. The table of contents for the Virginia Administrative Code at <> mentions nothing about elections. How is a person supposed to find the regulations you mention?

Incidentally, subsection C3 requires that the candidate provide the "daytime phone number of the treasurer". I suspect this is discriminatory. Adherents of the Amish religion are proscribed from using any technology that hit the market as recently as 1876. Many factory workers, farm workers, landscapers, health personnel, students, hoboes, and drivers of commercial vehicles cannot easily accept phone calls during their daytime hours, making it necessary to find a retiree or night shift worker with a home phone, or a white-collar worker, to serve as treasurer. That rule significantly limits the possible pool of treasurers in some communities. I would love to challenge that subsection, but have no standing, having had a phone available during the day since 1990.

When you say, "the committee is the campaign's bank account", you seem to be twisting the English language beyond recognition.

Respectfully submitted,

Vote Green in Canada.

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Last revised: 7 December 2020