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Disqualified Metro Council Candidate's Name To Appear On Primary Ballot, Votes Will Not Count

Pile of Vote Badges - US Elections Concept Image
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Pile of Vote Badges - US Elections Concept Image

The Democratic primary ballot for the District 6 Metro Council race will feature two candidates, but officials will only count votes for one.

Judge Charles Cunningham ruled this week that Courtney Lamont Phelps is disqualified as a candidate for this race and this cycle. Incumbent David James, the Council president, sued Phelps, alleging he falsified elements of his filing documents.

While James' lawyers asked that Phelps' name be removed from the ballots, Cunningham cited concerns from last week's hearing that redoing the ballots would be too expensive.

"Therefore, absent evidence that there is zero chance it would not be more expensive and zero chance it would preclude timely preparation and testing of the ballots," he could not justify granting the James lawyers' request, he wrote in the order submitted Monday.

Regardless, Jordan Kelch, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Board of Elections, said without a judge's order to redo ballots, the board would follow state law to provide notice to voters about a disqualified candidate.

He said there would be signs the size of regular sheets of paper prominently displayed in District 6 voting precincts as well as inside individual voting booths.

A similar situation took place in 2016, when a ballot included withdrawn candidates and a disqualified candidate, Kelch said.

"It listed the candidates that had withdrawn. And then at the bottom, it also mentioned the disqualified candidate, and essentially said that no votes will be tabulated or reported for these candidates," he said.

He said ballots had been sent to the printer, but could not say if they are already printed. He also said he did not think the posting process would be more expensive than redoing the ballots, but could not provide specifics.

The primary ballot for Metro Council District 4 will receive similar treatment for a withdrawn candidate, Dennisha Rivers, who pulled out of the race on Feb. 20.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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