Heard on the Hill

Virginia Poll Positioning

Smite the Vote founder Cameron Sasnett is so despondent that Virginia has blocked half of the remaining GOP presidential hopefuls from its upcoming primary that he’s orchestrating a purely symbolic mock vote in protest. Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made the cut for the March 6 primary — part of the Super Tuesday festivities — in the commonwealth. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) unsuccessfully sued to be placed on the ballot after failing to meet the state’s three-tiered registration process. According to Sasnett, the Old Dominion is on target to blow about $3 million for a primary expected to attract “very low voter turnout” due, at least in part, to the abbreviated roster of candidates. His solution? Scrounging up around $2 million to stage a (hopefully) cathartic straw poll two months after the fact. “It’s nonbinding ... but the conversation we want to have is about the process,” Sasnett said of his planned May 8 event. Sasnett hopes to set up about 200 pop-up polling stations within the state’s various voting jurisdictions and will include every certified applicant who filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president this year. The FEC listings show 354 registered candidates, including 128 self-proclaimed Republicans and 11 Libertarians. According to Sasnett, all are welcome because “we are entitled to choose who will lead us.” Participants will be checked off against state-approved voter registration rolls to circumvent fraudulent balloting, and Sasnett is thinking of co-opting the Middle Eastern practice of tracking participation via ink-stained index fingers. In the end, Sasnett expects to share the ceremonial tallies with the Republican parties of Virginia and Indiana — its state-sanctioned primary is scheduled for the same day, and Santorum might also fail to secure a slot there — the Republican National Committee and, of course, interested media. “We’re not advocating for any candidate ... people want choice. And more so, they’re entitled to it,” Sasnett said of his quixotic quest.