The Democratic Party of Virginia and the Republican Party of Virginia are the only recognized political parties; for other individuals wishing to appear on Virginia's general election ballot as a candidate for President, the state requires signatures of not less than 10,000 qualified voters, including at least 400 qualified voters from each of Virginia's eleven congressional districts.  These must be filed with the State Board of Elections no later than noon on August 20, 2004.  Further, according to a rule posted on the Board of Elections web site "petition pages must be filed by congressional district order and, within each congressional district, in locality order (counties followed by cities)."

Jean Jensen, Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, summarized the petition submissions in a Sept. 8, 2004 e-mail, reprinted verbatim below:

The deadline for third party candidates to submit all required documents, including petitions bearing the signatures of 10,000 registered Virginia voters, was noon on August 20, 2004. All campaigns were presented with a document in use by this office since 1999 entitled Federal Law, Deadlines and Ballot Access Requirements, General Election for President, Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The document included the deadline for submission, and the requirements that all petitions must be notarized and organized in Congressional District order.

The Libertarian Party submitted all documents including petitions bearing 11,475 signatures on June 30 and on July 20 they submitted an additional 2,228 signatures for a total of 13,703 signatures. All were sorted by Congressional District order at the time of filing.

The Constitution Party submitted all documents and petitions sorted by Congressional District order at 10:10am on August 20. They submitted 21,963 signatures.
On August 20, representatives of the Nader Campaign arrived in our office at 11:35am, and six or seven young people immediately spread out on the floor of our office and began to sort petitions into folders. Additional four or five Nader workers entered the office and joined the workers on the floor. At 12:00 we blocked the door to prevent entry by additional Nader campaign workers who attempted to enter with additional petition pages. At 12:05 I directed the staff to escort everyone on the floor to another room for safety reasons as it would have been impossible to exit the office if we had a fire or other emergency.
At 12:15, I went to the room to observe and saw that the group was still sorting. I questioned my authority to allow the Nader workers to continue to sort after 12 noon. I called the office of the Attorney General for advice. Jim Hopper, Senior Assistant Attorney General asked me if the other campaigns filed before noon and if their petitions were in Congressional District order. I replied yes. He stated that all parties must be treated equally, the same standards applied to all. He advised me to decline to accept the petitions. I notified the Nader Campaign of this decision.
On Monday morning, August 23, I received a hand delivered letter from Mr. Hopper stating that the Ballot Access document requiring the sorting of petitions by Congressional District ordered had never been voted on by the three members of the State Board of Elections (SBE) and was, therefore  unenforceable. I was advised to accept the petitions.
I followed the advice of the Attorney General’s office on Friday, August 20 and again on Monday, August 23.
The staff of the State Board of Elections accepted the Nader petitions.
The petitions for the Constitution Party, Libertarian Party and Nader Campaign were sent to the offices of the General Registrars around the state. The Registrars checked every signature against the Virginia Voter Registration list. They verified the signatures of 7,342 registered Virginia voters.
The Director of the Elections Services division of the SBE, reported to the Board on Tuesday, September 7, 2004 that the candidates for both the Constitution Party and for the Libertarian party qualified to appear on the November ballot as the met all qualification requirements including the signatures of 10,000 registered voters. Mr. Nader did not qualify for the ballot as he obtained the signatures of only 7,342 registered voters, and not the 10,000 required by law.

Jean Jensen
State Board of Elections