Dispute over how many signatures needed on Virginia Beach light rail petition

Posted at 6:47 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 18:54:11-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A petition concerning light rail in Virginia Beach has hit a snag.

There are now questions over exactly how many signatures are needed for a referendum.

The group 'No Light Rail Virginia Beach' filed the petition in March.  They want the question "Should City Council of Virginia Beach spend local funds to extend Light Rail from Norfolk to Town Center in Virginia Beach?" put on the November ballot in a non-binding referendum.

They believe they have thousands of signatures beyond what's needed, but the city registrar says they're about 500 short.

To get a referendum on the ballot, the city requires enough signatures to equal at least 25 percent of the number of people who actually voted in the most recent election.

Where the group and the city registrar disagree, is what is considered the most recent election.

The city registrar told News 3 the process started when the group filed paperwork in October, which means 2014 would be the most recent election prior to that.

Steve Miyares, an attorney with 'No Light Rail Virginia Beach,' says their actual petition was not filed until March, which means the numbers should be based on the 2015 election.

Since there was a big difference in voter turnout between the two years, it means a difference of thousands of signatures.

Miyares says they are planning to file a petition for a Writ of Mandamus, which would essentially make the court decide.

He says they're working to draw up the paperwork now.

If the court does not decide in the group's favor, the group has until July to submit more signatures.

Click here to see details on the number of signatures required depending on the election year.