Two candidates can't run on November ballots
8/17/2005 9:23 AM
By: Ken Derksen & Web Staff
(SELMA) -- Despite a town mistake, the Johnston County Board of Elections still won't let two Selma candidates make it on the November ballot.
Charles Hester admits he waited until the last minute to file for Selma town mayor but says a town clerk's mistake shouldn't keep him from running for office.
“We had to file by 12,” Hester explained. “I went down at 11:20."
Hester and two other candidates who wanted to run for town council filled out filing paperwork at Selma’s Town Hall the morning of August 5th. But Selma officials delivered that paperwork to the board of elections four hours late, which made all three ineligible to appear on the November ballot.
“It's like missing the train,” Hester continued. “Suddenly the train was due in at 12 noon. It got there at 12 but you thought you had a 12:05 time to get there."
On Tuesday, Selma officials asked the elections board to change its ruling. But the board says its hands are tied.
“What we have is a statute that has an absolute deadline and it doesn't provide for any type of exception,” said Selma attorney Chip Hewett.
“It sets up a situation that you almost have to be in two places at once if you wait until the last minute to file,” added Gordon Woodruff of the Board of Elections.
For candidates who filed early, their names may be for certain on the ballots. But they say the filing problems still impact them directly for election time.
“It effects not only myself, but obviously other individuals, people I am going to end up, if elected, end up working with and being around,” said Town Council candidate Troy LaPlante.
The town is now suing the board in an effort to get a judge to overturn the decision. Some hope it sends a strong message to state legislatures that having two different filing deadlines ending at the same time is asking for trouble.
Hester added, “They should have said you have to file at Selma by 10 which would have given them two hours to get across town to take it to the board of elections."
Hester says if the judge doesn't overturn the board's ruling, he's ready to hit the streets to build up a "write-in" campaign, ensuring his name still makes it on November ballots.
Tommy Holmes and Jim Earp were the two other candidates ruled invalid. They were both running for Selma Town Council but since the ruling, Earp decided not to run.
Selma's lawsuit against the elections board will go before a Superior Court judge August 29th.