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GOP battle comes to Virginia on Tuesday

Halifax County voters will have an opportunity Tuesday to go to the polls to vote for the Republican nominee for president with all county precincts opening Tuesday at 6 a.m.

Voting will continue in Virginia’s Republican Presidential Primary until the polls close at 7 p.m.

But only two of the remaining four GOP candidates will be on the ballot — Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney — after former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum failed to gather the required 10,000 signatures to get on Tuesday’s ballot.

Virginia law requires that any person appearing on a party’s presidential primary ballot receive signatures from at least 10,000 Virginians who are duly registered to vote with a minimum of 400 signatures required from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

The Virginia State Board of Elections required that these signatures be placed on official petitions which were circulated by Virginia residents, and that these petitions be filed with SBE by Dec. 22.

The political parties in Virginia are responsible for the counting of those petition signatures, and the state Republican Party certified to the State Board of Elections that only two candidates met the requirements for ballot access: Paul and Romney.

And write-in votes will not be permitted in Tuesday’s primary election, according to Halifax County Registrar Judy Meeler.

The Virginia State Board of Elections said Virginia election law does not permit write-in votes for primary elections: “No ballot issued during the Republican Primary on March 6, 2012 will contain an area where a write-in name may be included. In the case of electronic voting equipment, the option for a write-in vote has been disabled. In the case of paper ballots, if a name is written in a blank area on a ballot, or a name is scratched through and another is inserted, it will not register as a vote. In no way will defacement of an official ballot be tallied as a vote for any person other than those candidates currently listed.”

According to the county registrar, any registered voter is eligible to vote in Tuesday’s Republican Primary since Virginia doesn’t require voters to register with a single party.

However, Meeler anticipates a “very light” voter turnout Tuesday.

“If we get 10 percent we will be doing good,” she said of the county’s 23,500 registered voters.

According to Meeler, as of Friday her office only had 11 in person absentee voters, and a total of 20 absentee votes had been cast.

Due to local redistricting, polling place locations have changed for some voters since the last election in November.

State Election Board officials urge voters to check their voting location on the voter information card.

In addition to electing a president in November, county voters will elect a U. S. Senator and local voters in Virgilina and Halifax will elect members to their respective town councils.