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Candidate remains off upcoming ballot

Independent candidate Jon Ater made his case to the Lawrence County Board of Elections Thursday on why he should be on the November ballot.

However, the board’s earlier decision to reject Ater’s petitions will stand. That’s because there is no appeals process with any board of election in the state of Ohio.

The next step for Ater if he continues his push to be a candidate for county auditor in the courts.

Ater wanted to offer voters a third choice in the upcoming auditor’s race along with County Treasurer Stephen Burcham on the Democratic ticket and County Commissioner Jason Stephens on the Republican side.

“As an Independent, this is the year to run,” Ater told the board. “I know I can beat them.”

However two weeks ago, the board rejected Ater’s candidacy unanimously. He had submitted on May 3, petitions with the names of 313 signatures. Only 199 signatures are required. However, the board of elections could only certify 189 signatures.

Signatures were thrown out for a variety of reasons, including improper signing, spouses signing for spouses and a signer not being a registered voter.

Ater addressed one of those reasons with the board saying two of the signers had power of attorney for their spouses.

“I don’t know what I have done wrong,” he said. “When I turned in my petitions, there was no director or deputy director. Here I was alone.”

Ater said he witnessed every signature and that each one was from a registered voter.

The petitions were also rejected because only one had the address of 95 Private Drive, Chesapeake; the others had the address of 85 Private Drive, Chesapeake. A candidate can only have one legal address.

That discrepancy was an “innocent mistake,” Ater said. “I did my best. I am asking you to rethink this. There is negligence on both parts.”

After the meeting, board chairman Karen Matney Simmons said each petition and signature had been reviewed and that the board heard Ater as a courtesy.

“There is no appeals process, the board has made its decision,” she said.