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Election Board scratches Pal candidate from ballot

Convention still needed to select GOP clerk-treasurer candidate

August 14, 2019
The Harrison County Election Board had a special meeting Thursday to address a challenge against Gerrard Blayton, a Republican candidate for the Palmyra Town Council. The challenge was filed Aug. 5 by a Palmyra resident on the grounds that Blayton's address of residence and the address on his voter registration were not the same.

As a result of the meeting, the board notified Blayton that he will be ineligible for candidacy in this year's election. The decision was made by election board members Sherry Brown, the Harrison County Circuit Court clerk, a Republican, who serves on the board by virtue of her office, and Maryland Austin, a Corydon attorney who is the Republican party representative. The Democrat representative to the election board, Susie Weigle, was absent.

When Blayton filed for candidacy on Aug. 1, which was the deadline for party-affiliated candidates' applications, Brown said the state's electronic election filing system showed her an alert that said the address on Blayton's voter registration was outside of the district for the Palmyra Town Council.

"When I went to put him in the system, it wouldn't allow me," she said.

Brown said on the same day, just before filing for candidacy, Blayton had visited the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to update his address to a location within the council's district.

A state-produced election handbook, which summarizes code with pertinence to elections, advises potential candidates to account for a seven-day "pending" period when updating their voter's registration information to allow the state's official database to process the change.

However, Brown and Austin said they couldn't find any references to that pending period in local or state code.

With this dilemma, the two turned to a portion of the code which says a candidate's address of residence must be pulled from the state's database, which had not been updated to show Blayton's new address by the deadline for candidacy.

"He's not officially registered in the town even today," Brown said Thursday.

Austin said it was clear Blayton had made an effort to file for candidacy before the deadline.

"He took the steps to do it right, but he didn't do it in a timely-enough manner," she said.

With Blayton out of the race, a convention to narrow down the Republican field to three for the Palmyra Town Council is not needed. The three Republican candidates are Wyman Lee Childers, Heather Hug and Debra Sue Ray. They will be on the ballot with incumbents Christall F. Ingle, a Democrat, and Virginia (Jenny) Kirkham, an Independent.

However, a convention is needed to determine the candidate for clerk-treasurer, as Deborah A. Hess and incumbent Debra L. Jones, both Republicans, filed for the position.

A convention, which will be handled by the Harrison County Republican Party, must take place no later than Aug. 21.

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