Judicial Candidate Wants to Replace Deceased Primary Winner

FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) — A losing candidate in a judicial primary sued Kentucky’s Board of Elections for a spot on the November ballot, following the death of the winning candidate just a day after the primary.

Karen Faulkner, who finished third in the primary for Jefferson County District Judge, says the board violated state law when it recorded votes for Daniel Alvarez, who won the primary with 30 percent of the vote, but passed away before the results were certified.

The top two vote-getters win a place on the ballot in the November general election.

Faulkner claims in her lawsuit that “the Jefferson County Board of Elections knew that Alvarez had passed away but nonetheless included votes cast for him in its certification of the total number of votes certified to the Secretary of State’s Office, in violation of KRS 118A.150(6).”

That statute states: “If after the certification of candidates who will appear on the ballot, any candidate whose name appears on the ballot shall withdraw or die, neither the precinct election officers nor the county board of elections shall tabulate or record the votes cast for the candidate.” (Emphasis added in complaint.)

Faulkner finished just 17 votes behind second-place finisher Tanisha Hickerson, and requested a “recanvass of the voting machines and absentee ballots” the Friday after the election.

She says the Board of Elections once again violated state law when it recorded votes for Alvarez during the recanvassing process.

The board called the sequence of events “unprecedented” and said Hickerson would be the only candidate on the November ballot, a decision Faulkner calls unlawful.

“Faulkner has a right and a valid expectancy with respect to receiving a certificate of nomination,” the complaint states. “Faulkner’s rights as a candidate will be violated if she is deprived of a certificate of nomination in violation of state laws. In addition, the voters of Jefferson County will be deprived of a choice between two qualified candidates as intended by the General Assembly when it enacted the statutes governing primary elections for judicial candidates.”

Defendants include the Kentucky State Board of Elections, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, the Jefferson County Board of Elections, Tanisha Hickerson, and Andrew Bergeron.

Grimes’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Faulkner is represented by David Kaplan, of the Louisville firm Kaplan, Johnson, Abate, and Bird.

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