Elections board right on rules

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 11, 2010

Don’t be fooled, the issues that will keep an Independent candidate for county auditor off the ballot this fall have nothing to do with political party and everything to do with following the rules.

The Lawrence County Board of Elections voted to invalidate Chesapeake resident John Ater’s petitions last week because invalid signatures and incorrect addresses were listed on the documents.

Ater has been a lightning rod of controversy for years after he protested outside the Lawrence County Courthouse against soon-to-retire Lawrence County Auditor Ray T. Dutey. He has protested against the Republican party and was recently charged with driving under the influence on a tractor, a claim that Ater is fighting in court.

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Some will be quick to claim that Ater is being targeted because of his political party affiliation — or lack thereof — but that simply doesn’t make sense.

The conspiracy theorists are off base on this one.

This entire issue centers on Ater’s inability to follow the rules that are in play for all political candidates. In addition to having two different addresses on his petitions, Ater’s petitions were determined to have massive problems with valid signatures.

Only 199 signatures are required by law but the candidate ended up 10 short. Ater turned in 313 but 124 of those were determined to be invalid for a variety of reasons including improper signatures, spouses signing for spouses and a signer not being a registered voter.

This inattention to detail is what doomed his bid for public office and it had nothing to do with party affiliation.

The board of elections has showed in recent years that it will meticulously follow the guidelines when it comes to signatures. Candidates from both parties have been excluded.

This isn’t about Republicans, Democrats or Independents. It is simply about following the rules.