Judge: unopposed can be on ballot
RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) — An eastern Indiana judge has ruled that unopposed candidates can appear on a city’s election ballot despite a new state law omitting them from it.
A Wayne County judge granted an injunction Monday in a lawsuit filed by both major political parties, two unopposed candidates for Richmond elected offices and two voters, The Palladium-Item reported.
‘‘We worked together to do what we felt was right,’’ said Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton, who chairs the county’s Democratic Party. ‘‘I really believe it would discourage people from voting and we don’t want anything that discourages people from voting.’’
‘‘It’s a win for the voters,’’ added county Republican Party Chairwoman Misty Hollis.
Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said the office hasn’t decided whether to appeal.
The Republican-controlled Legislature this year approved the law, which says elections may not be held for offices with only one candidate, The Herald-Times of Bloomington reports.
The new law, which went into effect July 1, upset candidates whose names were removed from the ballot, political parties and election officials who predict that the blank spaces on ballots will confuse voters.
County attorney Ron Cross defended Wayne County Clerk Jo Ann Stewart in the case, and the attorney general’s office defended Secretary of State Charlie White and the state election commission.
Stewart told the court Friday that she had to finalize the ballots by the middle of this month. Horn ruled that the plaintiffs — the local Republican and Democratic parties, city council candidates Kelley Cruse-Nicholson and Clay Miller, and voters Kaarin Lueck and Barbara Mays — must put up $10,000 in security for payment of costs or damages incurred by an appeal.
They argued that the new law was unconstitutional and violated the rights of political parties, candidates and voters. But Horn said he granted the injunction based on interpretation of the law and did not need to rule on its constitutionality
Corbin said the attorney general’s office hasn’t been notified of any other lawsuits challenging the restriction.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opposition. The Monroe County Election Board also recently voted to include uncontested races on the local ballot, The Herald-Times reports.
Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins decided to go ahead and hold an election in Ellettsville despite the lack of opposed candidates, saying that she interpreted the new law as optional, the newspaper reported.