CHARLESTON - Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr missed an Aug. 1 deadline to qualify for the West Virginia ballot, but he argues in federal court that his party shouldn't have to meet an earlier deadline than Democrats and Republicans.

Barr sued Secretary of State Betty Ireland at U.S. District Court in Charleston on Aug. 13, challenging the constitutionality of her decision to keep him off the ballot.

Democrats won't pick a candidate until Aug. 28 and Republicans won't pick one until Sept. 4, attorney Robert Bastress of Morgantown wrote on Barr's behalf.

"The state lacks sufficient reason for requiring minor political parties and candidates to submit their nominating certificates and signatures by August 1 while permitting the major parties an additional month to identify their candidates," Bastress wrote.

He asked for an order extending the deadline to Sept. 4.

He also challenged state law requiring the party to collect enough signatures to equal two percent of votes cast in the last election for governor.

They attached a chart showing West Virginia sets a higher standard than any other state but Oklahoma, which requires three percent.

Barr and Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Root needed 15,118 signatures in West Virginia. According to Bastress, they collected 13,171 by Aug. 1.

"Plaintiffs have, however, continued to circulate their petitions and collect signatures and anticipate that they will imminently have a sufficient number of valid signatures," Bastress wrote.

Libertarians Richard Kerr of Monongalia County and Simon McClure of Harrison County joined Barr and Root as plaintiffs.

Barr formerly represented a Congressional district in Georgia as a Republican.

Libertarians have run for West Virginia offices since 1980, Bastress wrote.

District Judge John Copenhaver ordered Ireland to respond by Friday,
Aug. 22. He set a hearing Wednesday, Aug. 27.

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