A federal judge in Richmond on Thursday denied a motion by supporters of Donald Trump for a preliminary injunction to block the so-called statement of affiliation in Virginia’s March 1 Republican presidential primary. Later Thursday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency motion, filed by the three black pastors who brought the suit, seeking an injunction. The rulings mean that unless the plaintiffs win a reprieve in court, or state GOP officials reverse course, anyone who wants to vote in the Republican primary must sign a statement that says: “My signature below indicates that I am a Republican.”
In a four-page order, U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck said, “The limited record before the court does not support the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction against mailing absentee ballots for the Republican presidential primary” that contain the statement.
The judge wrote that the plaintiffs “did not present evidence to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their constitutional claims.” But the judge said the plaintiffs’ case “raises matters of significant concern” as to the State Board of Elections’ duties “to avoid voter confusion and to preserve the integrity of, and order in, the electoral process.”