The following is the text of an e-mail I sent to the chairs of the convention credentials committee, Michelle McQuigg and Mike May. I know these two are smart, fair people and, if they are given the right facts, can find a way to do the right thing, at least i hope so.
I understand the pressure on them by those who oppose Gill is fierce, and if it's anything like the threats made against Gill supporters at BVBL, it may include campaigning for their opponents or running smear campaigns against them.
Anyway, here is the letter:
I consider you honest, decent, and intelliegent people. I thank you for serving on the credentials committee. I write as a disinterested 3rd party to the race for the 51st delegate nomination. I am not in the district, and have not endorsed either candidate.
However, the piece I read about the committee's work over at Virginia Virtucon disturbed me. Specifically, I am bothered by the approach that seems to be coming to the fore regarding delegates who have not yet registered to vote.
First, the committee seems to be under the impression that a person must be registered in order to sign their delegate form. That is incorrect. The signature does not apply to qualifications, and that is a simple fact, and shouldn't be the subject of a debate by the candidates. I provide an explanation following my remarks here, lifted from a blog entry I constructed about this fight.
Second, the report suggested you would ask for RPV input and accept their response. I thought that was an unnecessary step, but supported it because I assume the RPV will give you the same answer I provide below.
However, I've read rumors that the committee seems to be leaning toward setting a false, arbitrary deadline for registration, one which will needlessly disenfranchise valid voters without providing any benefit except to one candidate over the other, something your committee must fight to avoid.
The following are my arguments on those two points, first what the signature actually means, and second why the deadline for registration (or in this case, FILING for registration), can only be the day of the convention (or for practical purposes, 5 pm on the day prior to the convention, when the registrar closes).
First, here's the entire text from the delegate form, for reference, verifiable through a link :
(I included here all the qualifications from my post below, I won't repeat it again)
First, the last paragraph is the "signature" paragraph. The first three are the "qualification" paragraphs.
Second, the signature paragraph specifiesTHREE claims made by the delegate when signing the form. There are three things the delegate attests to:
- They have READ the qualifications. Note that at the time they sign, they neither have to MEET the qualifications, nor do they attest that they meet the qualifications.
- They are in accord with the principles of the republican party.
- They will support the nominees of the Republican party in the ensuing election.
Third, it is clear the qualifications are to be met as of the day of the convention, NOT the date of submission of the delegate form. It's obvious, but I offer these seven facts as proof:
- The person obviously must meet the qualifications on the day of the convention. If a delegate moved from the district after submission but before the election, they would be ineligible. So even if you verify prior to the convention, the person MUST still meet the qualifications on the day of the convention.
- The rule specifies that those who meet qualifications "may participate as members" "in mass meetings", etc. The qualifications exist ONLY to control participation IN the meetings. . Since participation is ON the date, and the rule specifies NO OTHER date, it must apply to that date, not some arbitrary earlier date, be that the date of submission, of acceptance, or the submittal cut-off date.
- If the rules intended to specify a different date, they could have easily been written to do so. They don't, therefore the presumption is there was no intent to do so. For example, the rule could have said "must be registered as of the date of signature". Or "must be registered as of the cutoff date for submission of delegate forms". Or "must be registered 2 weeks prior to the meeting". When a rule could clearly specify a restriction, and does not, it means there is no further restriction.
- I refer you to the case of Tom DeLay, where a judge ruled that rules regarding the qualification of candidates are only enforced on the date of the election, and therefore the fact that Tom DeLay was not a registered voter or even a resident of his district on a date before the election did NOT make him ineligible as a candidate for the election.
- We have NEVER before applied a rule about registration that required registration before the convention. If a delegate got a valid voter card and brought it on the day of election, they were allowed to vote. This would be the first time we applied a rule to a date other than the convention. When in doubt, do what you've ALWAYS done, not something new that benefits one candidate, and disenfranchises good-faith voters.
- Rule 5 of the RPV plan (found in paragraph 3 above), allowing FILED applications to count as registrations, must obviously follow the same time guidelines as if the registration HAD been accepted. After all, the purpose of the rule is to cover the case where the delegate TRIED to register, but through no fault of their own could not get a voter card, because the SBE had closed registrations (due to an election). If we would have allowed the registration had they been open, we HAVE to allow the FILED registration by rule 5.
- Precident. Delegates HAVE been sent to get registered after the filing deadlines, even the day of a convention. The only time a delegate has been rejected is when the delegate missed the deadline for the day of the convention.
Fourth, the 3rd paragraph clearly states that delegates who have filed papers to register to vote shall still be considered a "qualified and legal voter", if the books "have been closed in connection with a local election". The registrar's books ARE currently closed due to the local primary election. They closed on May 13th, and will be closed until June 12th.
Given this rule, and that the rules of eligibility apply on the day of the convention, it is clear that for the 51st convention, ANY delegate who has proof of filing an application for registration before the convention, by rule must be considered a "qualified and legal voter". Whatever your opinion of this rule, the rule is clear, and there can be no argument of fact or law on this point. (I believe the committee can adopt rigid standards to ensure that these voters will pass registration).
I don't care who these delegates are for, and I have ALWAYS fought for inclusion rather than exclusion. We do our party a grave disservice is we spend time looking for reasons to REJECT voters, rather than ACCEPT voters. Any rejection based on an arbitrary date which was never specified would be a travesty of the process.
Let me provide one more thing to ponder. We could easily have amended the RPV plan to remove this clause. They added three items last year, and yet they kept the clause. So we must assume the RPV has this clause, allowing FILED registrations, for a reason.
So I've heard some poeple argue the "deadline" for this "filed registration" should be May 13th, since that is "30 days before the primary", an SBE deadline. That is an obviously illogical argument. If RPV wanted the deadline to coincide with primary deadlines, they could have simply removed this item from the plan, since before May 13 registration was still OPEN and so the people would have cards.
It is clear the intent of the RPV was to allow republicans who were NOT using a primary to keep registering voters PAST any arbitrary deadline governed by the SBE cutoff dates. And having removed THAT deadline, the RPV plan provides NO other deadline than the obvious one -- which is AT THE MEETING ITSELF.
For the RPV plan to have REJECTED the arbitrary deadline set by SBE activity, only to have a committee REPLACE that deadline with a deadline dreamed up in a CONVENTION COMMITTEE without prior notice to those who desire to be delegates, would indeed be a travesty.
This is not about being "fair" to the candidates. This is not about the candidates at all. Each candidate has equal claim to every delegate who shows up to vote, as every candidate is officially neutral, and free to vote for either candidate. This is instead about fairness to the DELEGATE.
In this case, you have delegates who read the delegate form, which clearly states they can register up until the day of the convention. Acting in accord with the clear reading of the rules, they have filled out valid registration applications, and are submitting them in a manner that, absent an SBE freeze on registrations, would provide them with valid VOTER cards well before the convention.
To tell those delegates that we are arbitrarily CHANGING the rules, and taking away THEIR right to vote for the Republican of their choice, would be wrong, and would be in my opinion actionable.
I could be wrong about the RPV response, but I don't see how they could read this any way other than I have, and I would expect if you hired an independent lawyer to look over the document they would tell you exactly what I just told you.
I do NOT work for either candidate, and neither candidate has talked to me about this issue or asked me to send this letter. I am doing this only in the interest of fairness to the new registrants, the new members of the Republican party, who I fear you will DRIVE AWAY from the party before they ever get to participate.
We WANT new members. We want new Republicans willing to give up their Saturdays to vote. We should encourage these new voters, and do everything in our power to get them qualified. We should NOT be looking for excuses to throw them away -- I can guarantee you our opposition party will be HAPPY to welcome them with open arms.
Thank you for your time,