(CN) – An appeals court has rejected a class action by Green County, Ky., voters who claimed their absentee ballots were unlawfully struck from the results of a general election. The voters claimed that a Kentucky state trial court violated their voting rights when it voided ballots cast in the 2006 election for the office of Green County clerk.
In a close contest, incumbent Democratic candidate Carolyn Scott was initially declared the winner by a margin of 151 votes.
But the trial court later installed Republican challenger Billy Joe Lowe because it said Scott had attached campaign stickers to envelopes containing absentee ballots, and put an absentee voting machine inside her office.
Lowe won more machine votes but absentee ballots for Scott totaled 364 to Lowe’s 178. When those ballots were deducted, Lowe prevailed by a 35 vote margin.
While 6th Circuit Judge Julia Gibbons agreed that the decision to void the votes “resulted in significant disenfranchisement,” she declared that Lowe’s victory did “rise to the level of fundamental unfairness.”
“Because the evidence showed that Scott had opportunities to influence potential absentee voters, and ‘Scott failed to put in place any appropriate checks and balances,’ the absentee ballots were tainted,” the justice said. “We believe these conclusions to be reasonable, based on the evidence before the court, and permissible under Kentucky election law.”
Gibbons added that the voiding of the ballots was an “appropriate remedy” because the trial court “looked to analogous state cases and applied the careful scrutiny to incumbent county clerks.” Therefore, the voters’ due process rights were not violated, the judge said.