Four additional GOP presidential candidates left off Virginia's Republican primary ballot have joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry in suing the state elections board.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced Saturday they were joining Perry's lawsuit charging that Virginia's ballot rules are unconstitutional.
The suit is challenging Virginia's rules that determine who can appear on the primary ballot: To qualify in the state, candidates must submit 10,000 signatures from registered Virginia voters, including at least 400 from each of 11 congressional districts -- a bar some say only the best-funded campaigns can meet.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Perry said the statutes of Virginia law that regulate access to the ballot were "among the most onerous in the nation and severely restrict who may obtain petition signatures."
In their release Saturday, Bachmann, Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum request the board of elections add their names to the ballot, saying it will avoid "unnecessary costs and expenses to the state and the parties" that would be incurred by moving the lawsuit forward.
The Virginia Republican Party announced last week that both Perry and Gingrich failed to submit the required number of signatures and therefore were disqualified from the ballot. Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum opted not to file any paperwork at all, leaving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul the only GOP presidential candidates to qualify.
Gingrich blasted Virginia's decision to kick him off the ballot, calling it a "failed system" and comparing the setback to Pearl Harbor. According to CNN, he cited campaign worker fraud as the reason for not qualifying.
In a statement last week, Perry's campaign called Virginia's provisions unconstitutional in restricting ballot access.
"We believe that the Virginia provisions unconstitutionally restrict the rights of candidates and voters by severely restricting access to the ballot, and we hope to have those provisions overturned or modified to provide greater ballot access to Virginia voters and the candidates seeking to earn their support," Perry communications director Ray Sullivan said.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is expected to file emergency legislation to try to aid the candidates in getting on the ballot as well.
Virginia has 49 delegates. Its primary will be held March 6.