(Correction!) Newt Gingrich: No-show voter to Virginia primaries

CORRECTION: As a result of misreading the voter history report generated by VERIS, Newt Gingrich’s general-election voting history was misstated below. He did, in fact, vote in every general election from 2003 to 2010, voting absentee in three of them. The information about primary elections is correct.

In the aftermath of the news that presidential candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich had failed to qualify for Virginia’s 2012 Republican primary because neither campaign had collected a sufficient number of voters’ petition signatures, the blogosphere has been filled with a “set phasers to mock” attitude, especially toward Gingrich.

Gingrich became a special target of snark both because he distastefully compared his campaign’s inability to meet Virginia’s ballot-access requirements to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December 1941, and also because he vowed to wage an “aggressive write-in campaign” in the March 6 primary.

It only took a few moments after that announcement for experts on Virginia politics to note that it is impossible to do that, since write-in votes are not permitted on primary ballots in the Old Dominion.

As Larry Sabato of the UVA Center for Politics tweeted early on the morning of Christmas Eve,

I’m well familiar w/VA primary ballots, D & R. There is NO write-in possible on primary ballots. So Newt’s write-in? All in his head.

Gingrich, who is registered to vote in the Dranesville district of Fairfax County, did not know what virtually every political activist knows – and what most voters who participate in primary elections should remember simply by observation: that Virginia does not allow write-in votes in primaries.

I may have discovered a clue to Newt’s cluelessness, however.

Since 2003, Gingrich would have had four opportunities to participate in a Republican primary election: June 2003 (Virginia state senate and Fairfax County sheriff); June 2005 (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General); February 2008 (presidential); and June 2008 (U.S. House of Representatives).

Out of those four elections, according to Virginia voter registration records, Gingrich voted only once. He cast an absentee ballot in the February 2008 Republican presidential primary.

Since the records on VERIS (the statewide voter registration database) do not extend beyond 2003, it’s not possible to determine if Gingrich voted in primary elections before that.

We do know, however, that he did not cast a ballot in 2005 to choose between Jerry Kilgore and George Fitch for Governor, or between Bill Bolling and Sean Connaughton for Lieutenant Governor, or between Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril for Attorney General.

We know he did not cast a ballot in 2008 to choose between incumbent Representative Frank Wolf and challenger Vern McKinley.

That means Gingrich only had one opportunity in the past nine years to observe that write-in votes are not allowed in Virginia elections.

That explains a lot.

It may also indicate the level of Gingrich’s commitment to participate in the political process. He has voted in one primary election and just three of the past eight general elections. He failed to vote in the November elections of 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2010. He did vote in November 2006, 2008, and 2009.

Has anyone ever used the word “aloof” to describe Newt Gingrich?

  • Lori Carlson

    Why go vote unless your name is on the ballot? It is all about him. Regardless, I am disappointed that only two candidates made the primary…

  • Not Larry Sabato

    Newt voted absentee in the general elections of 06, 08 and 09 and in person in the others you named (03, 04, 05, 07, 10) as well as 02 and 01 when he first registered here.

    What you say about the primaries is accurate, but the general elections is not- somehow I think you are only looking at absentee ballot requests since the only years you have him down are the ones he voted absentee. He’s voted in person in 7 general elections also.

  • I cannot believe that this has been allowed to happen. I was not going to vote for newt, and maybe I would vote for perry but not sure if I could. Either way, Virginia is irrelevant to the process and this proves it. They only feign contempt for being left off to try not to tick people off. I’ve never felt that in our nomination process, and particularly in virginia that I have ever had a true vote in the process. I will more then likely be sitting out this primary. I mean..Romney or Paul? No write in possible? No reason to vote to me.

  • And the same process forces Allen on us..

  • Tim J

    Newt and Herman Cain should co-write a “What Might Have Been” novel and go on a book tour together. They might even get a TV comedy series out of it where Newt could play President, “Oops” Perry VP, Cain as himself with Ron Paul playing multiple roles as the President’s cabinet.

  • Mitch Baxter

    Now that the main premise of this article has been undercut through admission of a significant error, why is it still up?

    Newt voted in ALL of the general elections, as well as the presidential primary. He didn’t vote in the primaries for state senate, governor and sheriff? Who cares? I can’t say for sure whether I voted in all of them either.

    Newt didn’t know that write-ins aren’t allowed in Virginia primaries? I’m an attorney who’s worked on three presidential campaigns and three House campaigns, and didn’t know that either.

    The man is running for president, not the board of elections. He’s a history professor, writer and politician/statesman, not a political activist.

    It would be better to admit that this snippy piece failed and take it down.

  • Ditto what Mitch said. This post is not up to BD standards.. I am by no means a Newt supporter though and it was up to Newt to know the rules that the others knew about. Winners take all and they are sharing it.

  • Good Night Nurse! How many umpteen pile-on-Newt arcticles do we have to put up with here? I can’t even track of them. For such a “non issue” it has certainly kept the editors of BD very, very busy.

    In the meantime, the now-meaningless Virginia Primary goes ignored and the campaigns move on. For those who want a choice between George H. W. Bush and his high level staff who gave us 1992 and Bill Clinton–have a great day. For those who gave us the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress and a balanced budget, stick with Newt.

    For those who want a Christian Nation, go with Perry.

    For those who want a kinder, gentler Hitler, go with Paul.

    Unfortunately, we here in Virginia are only given the choice of the G. H. B. years that gave us Clinton, or the kinder, gentler, Adolph.

    Great job, RPV. Really impressed.

  • Oh, I forgot to add. Good job of doing such a great job of protecting us from our “uninformed, stupid, ignorant” mob mentality, as one of your fans here wrote on one these umpteen Hate-Newt threads.

  • The article is still up because Rick still made a point. We’ve issued a correction. The correct information is now up there for folks to see. We don’t take posts down because we were wrong. We issue corrections. Rick has done that.

    Craig, you can’t hold us accountable for what commenters say in the comments. I think Bearing Drift readers are the smartest, most informed and most inquisitive of all voters in the Commonwealth. That’s why they read us. That we may disagree isn’t because anybody is dumb. Nobody on the site believes that. Not even “haughty elitists” like me.

  • Conservative gal

    It has become clear that BD is completely opposed to a Gingrich nomination. I’m for one glad to see that Perry already filed a lawsuit, and that a conservative group will also do so shortly on behalf of the Virginia voters that do want to have a true choice on their ballots come March 6.

  • BD isn’t opposed to anyone getting the nomination. We’ve not made an endorsement.

    That being said, some of us as individuals don’t care much for Gingrich, myself included. And that has more to do with non-presidential related issues, at least in my case.

  • At Brian S: “BD isn’t opposed to anyone getting the nomination. We’ve not made an endorsement.”

    April 1st is past the March 6th Super Non-Tuesday in Virginia. Did you file your requisite number of verifiable petitions for this joke?

  • Oh, I forgot. I you stuff your signature list with 1/2 more than the required amount, everyone will just wink.

  • Gee, tell me now. What would happen if an outside auditing firm sealed down the RPV and took all those petitions and verified them independently? Just wondering why all the RPV people are just up in arms over all these questions…

  • Craig,
    When has RPV gotten involved? They haven’t issued any statement.

    Also, Brian – well said.

    Couple points, as I have been out of pocket for about five hours:

    1) There used to be a time in new media when errors could be made, comments and other blogs could discover issues with that post, said post could be corrected, and we are all better off because we have the right info. That’s what made new media great. It doesn’t have the same “rules” as mainstream media – it’s participatory. So, Rick has made the correction and his observations regarding Newt and primaries is still valid.

    2) God, if you’re accusing BD of covering this story, where’s the condemnation of Fox News or Red State or National Review? This is a huge VIRGINIA Republican story and we are a VIRGINIA conservative political site. What the hell else do you expect? If we weren’t covering it, you all would be crying, “Why are you changing the subject?”

    So, bah. Deal with it.

    And, no, we haven’t endorsed. We may very well not because some on the board MIGHT NOT HAVE THEIR FAVORITE CANDIDATE ON THE BALLOT.

    So, we haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet.

    In other words, get a life.

  • Norm Leahy

    Let me set a few things straight for you, Craig.

    Brian’s exactly right when he says BD’s editors have made no endorsement decision in this race. You can dismiss that if you wish, but that’s a fact.

    We will make an endorsement. We will argue over it. I will likely come out on the short end of the stick (’cause my guy, Gary Johnson, is packing it in and going the LP route…yeah, that’ll work).

    For a time, the various BD editors and contributors have made it known they favor Romney, or Newt or Santorum, Ron Paul and Herman Cain (remember him?). We argue about those choices, sometimes sharply, because that’s what political junkies like us do.

    We haven’t, as a group, settled on anyone. But when we do, we’ll tell people about it. You may not like the choice. I may not like the choice. But them’s the breaks.

    And like Jim said — we may endorse no one, because the candidate the majority likes isn’t on the ballot (or has dropped out long before Virginia or anyone else has a chance to vote).

  • Brian Kirwin

    BD readers are correct. 10 posts about the same subject over 4 days ranks up there with the Washington Post’s macaca coverage in 2006.

    If the Virginian-Pilot did this, we’d laugh when they denied favoring or disfavoring a candidate.

    Personally, I don’t get all excited writing negative articles about Republican candidates. I leave that to liberals.

    Call me crazy, but I actually want Republicans to win elections.

  • Kirwin, it’s 10 posts over Christmas. Is there anything else of any newsworthiness whatsoever happening? No. And we’re not the Virginia Pilot – we don’t claim to be non-partisan.

    I want Republicans to win elections too – that’s the best part about primaries. No matter who wins, the Republican still wins.

  • “JR Hoeft December 27, 2011 20:39 pm

    When has RPV gotten involved? They haven’t issued any statement.

    Also, Brian – well said.”

    Then why, please, why, is this BLATANT LIE about Newt not voting in elections still a screaming headline on BD? Why, why, why have you not just taken this whole thread down? A small correction in fine printe is no different than the old media. In fact, this is even worse.

    You guys and gals are falling like rocks among a great many of us here. This one, in particular, who offered to send a donation to keep this site going if only JR would provide me with a VALID MAILING ADDRESS.

    I’ll leave it to him to explain the reasons why. For me, the reason I have not sent in a check is because I was not provided with a valid mailing address to do so. Or even a legitimate business name for that matter.

  • I won’t wade into the criticism over the article itself, other than to say I appreciate that it was corrected, in relatively short order, if not the headline itself.

    What I do want to point out is that perhaps a little bit too much credit is being given to “activists” and citizens here. I know that I’ve had to correct a number of people, involved in GOP politics for varying periods of time, when they immediately began yelling “write-in!” I also have to correct fellow activists regularly on the point that they’re not registered as Republicans or that party id appears on the ballot for local offices. I remember us having this very same conversation back in 2008 when people said they were going to write so and so in. So let us not assume that this is known by “all”.

    In my experience, elections tend to be more of an exercise in muscle memory than true comprehensive reading. Let’s give the people credit, but not too much credit. You and I make a hobby of this, Rick (and you are a public servant on the matter). But not everyone does, even our fellow active citizens.

  • I don’t know why, Craig, because I have responded in posts and comments, which I will do so again. Also, your email address doesn’t work. I get a bounce back.

    Regardless. Checks are payable to Virginia Line Media, but mailed to:

    Bearing Drift Media
    PO Box 16828
    Chesapeake, VA 23328

    As for the headline…ok…good point.

  • J. R. Check is in the mail. First I’ve heard from you. My email has not changed so don’t why the bounces. I’ve linked my web site to this sign up site, but in case you’ve lost it, it is craig@craigkilby.com.

    Cheers. And off to work.

  • My question is whether there has been a misuse of voting record access in this post. According to the VA Code § 24.2-400 et seq., it appears it is not supposed to be used for purposes like this.

  • Actually, J.R., since I am in Richmond on business this week, I really haven’t mailed that check though I assume the USPS will accept mail even though a PO box is not a valid voting address. ANYWAY. I will send the check when I get and IF AND WHEN YOU TAKE THIS BALD FACE LIE HEADLINE, to wit:

    (Correction!) Newt Gingrich: No-show voter to Virginia primaries

    The headline makes it even more of lie that it started off as.


    P.S. On the other hand, we could get together for a beer and maybe even host a fundraiser for RPV for their legal defense fund. Whatever shall we call it?

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