The Stark County Board of Elections denied to certify two candidates in the race the 7th Congressional District due to petition signature issues. However, the Knox County Board of Elections later Monday said it had designated 10 signatures as being invalid in error. And a Libertarian candidate has sought the Stark County boards reconsideration.
CANTON As of Monday, U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, was the only candidate for Congress to represent the 7th Congressional District on the March 17 primary ballot.
On Monday morning, the Stark County Board of Elections certified a ballot that didnt include the names of the Democratic and Libertarian candidates for Congress representing the 7th. The board staff said they had failed to submit enough valid signatures.
However, a Knox County elections official said her office had mistakenly designated 10 signatures submitted by a Libertarian candidate as invalid. Brandon Lape, 38, of Danville Monday afternoon filed a formal request for the Stark County Board of Elections to reverse its decision to leave him off the ballot.
Three men in three separate parties filed by the deadline last Wednesday to seek their partys nomination to be congressman for the 7th District, which includes most of Stark County.
They were Gibbs, Lape and Democrat Patrick Pikus, of Plain Township, who ran to be congressman for the same district in 2018.
Gibbs and Pikus, as members of major parties, had to submit 50 valid petition signatures by registered voters in their party who lived in the congressional district.
Lape, 38, of Danville and an IT worker, as a member of a minor party had to submit 25 valid petition signatures.
Pikus submitted the minimum of 50 but board staff found nine signatures to be invalid.
They said the signatures of three Tuscarawas County voters were invalid because they were on a page with Stark County voters on Pikus petition. Two signatures were by people not registered to vote, two signatures did not match voter registration records, one was not registered at the provided address and one lived outside the 7th Congressional District.
A message seeking comment was left on Pikus voicemail.
Because all of the people who signed Lapes petition lived in Ashland and Knox counties, the Ashland and Knox county boards of election verified the signatures. Because Stark County is the most populous county in the 7th District, the Stark County Board of Elections decided whose candidacies to certify.
Elections staff in Ashland and Knox counties initially invalidated 23 of 42 petition signatures submitted by Lape, leaving him with only 19, six short of the minimum. They found two signatures were by people not registered to vote, two were not registered to vote from the addresses provided and one signature was invalid because it was by the petition circulator. They found 18 were signed by voters who had voted in a recent Republican or Democratic primary, which made them ineligible to sign Lapes petition.
But Kim Horn, the director of the Knox County Board of Elections, said hours later her office mistakenly had concluded that 10 of candidate Lapes signatures were invalid. Horn said her offices voter registration database mistakenly designated several voters as Republican or Democratic voters when they hadnt voted in a Republican or Democratic primary since 2016.
By law, a person ceases to be affiliated with a political party if they dont vote in that partys primary for at least two calendar years.
Regine Johnson, the Stark County Board of Elections deputy director, said the board would choose whether to hold the hearing of reconsideration. If it takes place, it would likely happen by Jan. 13.
Stark County Commissioner Janet Weir Creighton, a Republican whos not up for re-election in 2020, said in an interview about the petition process this month that she always advises candidates to get more signatures than the minimum. And to have an official at party headquarters check the signatures against the rolls of registered voters.
"If youre required to get 50 good signatures, you dont get 50. You get more than what you need," she said. "If you cant follow these rules then I question why youe running for office. ... I would be sick if it cost my candidacy because of an error."
Creighton added the earlier petition filing deadline made it harder to get signatures as people were more focused on the holidays.
Write-in candidates have until Jan. 6 to file for the March 17 primary. They have to fill out a form but do not have to submit signatures. They are not listed on the ballot. In the Democratic primary for 7th Congressional District congressman, which now has no candidates, the write-in candidate who has at least 50 voters write in their name on the ballot and wins a plurality of the write-in vote would then become the Democratic candidate. That persons name would be listed on the ballot in November along with Gibbs name, said Travis Secrest, an administrative assistant for the Stark County Board of Elections
Non-partisan candidates who wish to run for Congress and be listed on the November ballot have until March 16 to file, said Secrest. They must submit at least 2,616 valid signatures by any registered voters in the district.
Candidates denied a place on the ballot due to signature issues are not eligible to run as write-in candidates or non-partisan candidates.
The Board also chose to leave off the ballot liquor options for Aldi Ohio in the Canton 6-C precinct and the Palace Theatre in Canton 2-B due to both entities submitting an insufficient number of valid petition signatures.
In addition, the Board also declined to certify three candidates seeking party committee positions due to an insufficient number of valid signatures. That included Patrick J. Glasgow, who was seeking to be the male member on the Libertarian Party State Central Committee for the 7th Congressional District. Glasgow would have been unopposed. And also denied a spot on the primary ballot were Gloria Ann Jeter of precinct Canton 6-C and Patrick Hoch of Canton 7-F for Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee.
Patrick Dorosky is now the only candidate for the Canton 6-C Stark County Democratic Party Central Committeeman. No one else sought the Canton 7-F seat. Eligible write-in candidates may seek the spot or if no one does Stark County Democratic Party
Chairman Samuel J. Ferruccio, whos also the chairman of the Stark County Board of Elections, can appoint any Democratic registered voter in Canton 7-F to fill the seat.
Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rwangREP.
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