Remember all the controversy about Nader's efforts to get on the ballot in Virginia last year? Nader's petitions were originally disqualified because they did not follow the Virginia Board of Elections requirements for submission (specifically, they weren't sorted by Congressional District).
Then Attorney General Jerry Kilgore stepped in to help the Bush/Cheney campaign (for which he just happened to serve as state chairman) and declared those Virginia Board of Elections rules, which had been in place since 1999 and which every other candidate had followed assiduously, invalid.
It's not easy to collect valid signatures in Virginia given the rules. Separate petitions must be kept for all congressional districts and all municipalities within a congressional district. I remember trying to collect signatures in NoVA in 2003 to get Dean on the ballot, and finding that only about 1 in 3 people knew what congressional district they were in (or who was their member of Congress). Others couldn't even say definitively whether they lived in Falls Church City or the Falls Church part of Fairfax County, or Alexandria City or the Alexandria part of Fairfax County. If they sign the wrong petition, their signature is invalid even if they may be a valid registered voter.
For the grassroots Dean campaign in Virginia, our volunteer statewide petition coordinator, Sherry Stanley of Staunton, put in hundreds of hours of work to make sure we followed VBE rules to the letter. Hundreds of volunteers around the state worked on this effort. We followed all of the rules and submitted nearly twice the 10,000 required signatures to get on the ballot.
When we found out that Jerry Kilgore was intervening on behalf of the Nader campaign to throw out the rules that the Nader campaign didn't follow, many of our dedicated volunteers were furious at what appeared to be a blatant abuse of power to assist the Bush/Cheney efforts. The Nader campaign sent out a press release saying the following about the Democratic party, which simply felt that the Nader campaign should have to follow the same rules as everyone else:
The Nader team in Virginia has done nothing wrong and we are getting tired of the Democrats trying to spin the truth and make us look as if we are, in any way, at fault for their disgraceful attempt to subvert democracy.
In that context, I can't help but feel somewhat vindicated at the news that Nader's Virginia Campaign Director has pleaded guilty to election fraud based on illegally certifying Nader's petitions in Virginia:
James P. Polk, 47, was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which he will serve under house detention, and fined $2,500.
Polk was indicted on 10 counts of election fraud in October, but prosecutors withdrew nine of those counts.
Polk was accused of illegally certifying petitions to get Nader, an independent candidate, on the ballot. Nader's name was not placed on the ballot in Virginia.
The original story on Polk's indictment on 10 counts, from last October, is here.