An aggressive write-in campaign is underway for Democratic-endorsed school board candidate Marcia St. John-Cunning, @marcia4schools, who is still running to be the Franconia District School Board Member.
On one page of her Petition of Qualified Voters, which was due April 17, St. John-Cunning’s street address is listed incorrectly. The street address error invalidated a number of required signatures on St. John-Cunning’s form, and thus, without them, she no longer has the required 125 signatures to appear on the ballot as a candidate for Fairfax County School Board Member by District.
On Oct. 25, St. John-Cunning was disqualified from the ballot in Franconia District following the ruling by Judge Richard Gardiner, Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Her opponent for Franconia representative on the school board, Kevin Pinkney, endorsed by Fairfax GOP, remains on the ballot.
It brings up one of tne of the potential complications of early voting. Over 3,000 people had already voted in this race, according to St. John-Cunning, and “now their votes don’t count.”
While her name remains on the ballot, voters who want to cast their vote for St. John-Cunning should not fill in the bubble next to her printed name. Votes cast in that way will not count.
Judge Gardiner heard the case of Eighth Congressional District Republican Committee et al. v. Eric Spicer, General Registrar and Director of Elections for Fairfax County, in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. Gardiner ruled that Spicer, in his official capacity, should have invalidated the page.
“The page … does not have her address on the front page. Instead, it lists 4429 Shannon Hill Rd., Alexandria, VA 22310, which is not an actual address. This petition page and the signatures on the front and back page(s) are invalid as a matter of law,” wrote Judge Gardiner.
Hence, St. John-Cunning is disqualified from the ballot.
Voters who wish to vote for St. John-Cunning must print her full name as “Marcia C. St. John-Cunning” on the line beside “Write-in” on the ballot, according to @FairfaxDems.
“I am going to keep running because I am passionate about what I have been doing for the past 25 years. This is not a political move for me. I love our teachers and our families in Franconia District,” said Cunning on her candidate page.
Lauding the ruling, 8th District Republican Committee Chairman Andrew Loposser responded to the disqualification of Marcia St. John Cumming. “We will not stand by while any party or candidate attempts to bypass the rules that safeguard our electoral process,” Loposser said, according to an online statement at vagop8cd.org. He added that the case upholds the Republican processes that ensure only valid candidates reach the ballot. The 8th District Republican Committee is an arm of the Republican Party of Virginia.
In the meantime, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, and Fairfax Education Association remain stro supportive of St. John-Cunning. “We will fight for Marcia St. John-Cunning, and I am confident she will be the next FCPS School Board member from the Franconia district,” Bryan Graham, chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said in a statement.
“We need you to vote for Marcia St. John-Cunning. She needs to be written in on your ballot,” said Fairfax Education Association President Leslie Houston.
David Walrod, union president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers said, “We want to emphasize that she will be a strong advocate for students, educators, and the community."
Judge Gardiner’s ruling came 14 days before the Nov. 7 general election, 47 days after early voting began on Sept. 22. According to St. John-Cunning, she “was certified as a qualified candidate back on March 7, 2023.” That is 232 days before Gardiner’s ruling.
"This decision not only ignores the votes of more than 3,000 citizens who have already voted in the Franconia district, but the confusion caused by this decision is harmful to our democracy and the sanctity of the electoral process,” said Graham.
According to Loposser, the decision by Judge Gardiner and the Virginia Department of Elections to disqualify St. John-Cunning was not “an act of disenfranchisement but a reinforcement of the rule of law, and there were legitimate grounds for the disqualification.
As a write-in candidate, St. John-Cunning is not required to file any ballot access documents; however, she will need to be in compliance with Campaign Finance requirements.
In November 2019, the most recent election for the four-year term Fairfax County School Board members, Franconia District, then called Lee, reported 71,853 active registered voters, with total votes of 28,481 or 39.6 percent.
For more on St. John-Cunning, see https://www.marcia4schools.com/
For more on Kevin Pinkney, endorsed by the GOP, see https://pinkney4schoolboard.com/