Note: This story appears in the Friday, July 19 newspaper on Page A3.
Athens City Councilman Patrick McGee is challenging a decision by Athens County election officials that he will not appear on the November election ballot.
As The Messenger previously reported, McGee filed to run as an independent candidate for re-election, but the Athens County Board of Elections voted not to certify his candidacy petition on grounds he had only 70 valid signatures when at least 77 were required.
He had actually submitted 103 total signatures, but several were block-printed signatures that did not match cursive signatures on file with the board.
On Thursday, McGee filed a letter with the elections board in which he disputed that he did not have enough valid signatures.
“I do no believe there is any question as to the authenticity of the signatures and I provide affidavits in support,” McGee wrote.
Attached to the letter were affidavits from seven voters (including his son) who all stated they had signed his petition. Each also stated, “I often do not use the cursive style in my regular business or legal affairs.” Each signed the affidavit in both block printing and cursive.
In the letter, McGee wrote that “under the general rules that govern petitions” an exception to the cursive-style requirement is if the signer does not use cursive in regular business or legal affairs.
McGee also cited a 2015 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court which he claims supports allowing the challenged signatures.
Elections Director Debbie Quivey said the elections board instructed her to ask the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office for a legal opinion on how to proceed. Quivey said she was not familiar with the Supreme Court case cited by McGee.
McGee hints that failure to allow him on the ballot could lead to legal action.
“...I would ask you to consider my request to allow these 7 additional signatures so as to validate my Nominating Petitions and place me on the ballot so as to avoid the need to follow up with a mandamus action, and to grant me an immediate hearing should you disagree with my request,” McGee wrote.
A mandamus action seeks a court order to require a government entity to take an action it is obligated by law to perform.
The deadline for certifying independent candidates for the ballot was this past Monday, and the elections board voted unanimously on July 10 not to certify McGee for the ballot, Quivey said. He learned this past Tuesday of the board’s decision when told by The Messenger.