A federal judge in Richmond on Monday added the Republican Party of Virginia as a defendant in a lawsuit challenging the GOP’s “statement of affiliation” in the March 1 GOP presidential primary. Also Monday, the State Board of Elections, the original defendants, asked U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck to dismiss the suit. Lauck has set a Wednesday hearing in the case. Three black pastors from the Richmond area who support Donald Trump filed suit last week against the State Board of Elections in an effort to block the requirement under which voters would fill out a form that says: “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican.” The State Board of Elections approved the requirement Dec. 16 at the request of the GOP’s State Central Committee. Trump says his campaign is not part of the suit, but supports its goal.
The State Board of Elections had urged the judge to add the Republican Party of Virginia to the case “as a necessary party” to the action. It said in its motion that “whatever alleged defect may exist in the requirement, it is not a requirement created by the SBE.”
The judge wrote in her order Monday: “Factually, both plaintiffs and defendants contend that the language to be used on the ballots arises as a result of the RPV’s involvement.”
Lauck added: “The court will be called upon to evaluate the lawfulness of the language. If the court were to find the language unlawful, an order enjoining its use would impact the RPV’s involvement in the process. Without the RPV, the court likely could not afford complete relief.”