MIAMI COUNTY — Three protests were heard and voted on at the Miami County Board of Elections meeting on Thursday.
Tom Merritt presented his case to the board. Merritt filled out his petition to run for the Tipp City Council, which he said was turned in and dated Aug. 4, the day before he was told the petition was due.
He received a letter Aug. 21 informing him that his petition had been rejected because of fatal errors, although the letter he received did not say what the errors were.
After contacting the board of elections for advice and being redirected to the secretary of state’s website for help, he said he was confused by some of the terminology as far as what would be protested.
“As I read the secretary of state’s information I was still confused because I wasn’t sure if I was the protestor or if somebody was protesting me,” he said. “I knew I wanted to appeal, but it said to protest a candidacy. I wasn’t protesting a candidacy; I felt the board was protesting me.”
The issue with Merritt’s petition was the question over when the statement of candidacy was filled in and signed and whether the substance was in compliance.
With the exception of the date, year and signature, he had filled out the petition with his other information earlier, which those who signed the petition for him to run on June 27 saw.
The signature came on Aug. 4.
Board member Bob Huffman said that someone who had talked to Merritt was under the impression that the statement of candidacy was not filled out when he circulated the petition.
“Obviously we’re relying on your veracity for this,” he said. “Are you telling us that your statement of candidacy was complete save your date, the year and your signature?”
“I believe so,” Merritt replied.
Huffman explained under the law, any error on the circulator’s statement on the petition requires strict compliance, so any error in that section would disqualify a candidate. However, a statement of candidacy is a substantial compliance matter. The board sustained other protests over the date not being filled in, while the signature was up to the board to decide.
“If the whole statement of candidacy was blank that’s not substantial compliance, that’s no compliance,” Huffman said.
Merritt’s petition was then found in substantial compliance and was approved by the board to go on the ballot.
Additionally, Lori Ginn Parson and Scott Fogle’s protests were read — citing similar errors — and petitions approved for the Milton-Union Board of Education and West Milton Council.
In other business, the board approved 10 of 12 petitions submitted to the board. The two that were not approved did not identify where those candidates were running.
The board also discussed giving out the 30-page booklet on candidacy rules to avoid compliance issues. They agreed to send Montgomery County’s petition booklet to the secretary of state’s office to confirm if they could adopt the booklet for Miami County.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews