MURRAY – With no new draw at Wednesday’s Calloway County Board of Elections meeting, the order of Murray mayoral candidates will remain the same in the November general election ballot.
After nonpartisan general election candidates showed up to vote at the Calloway County Courthouse on June 9, mayoral candidate Clif Darnell complained to County Clerk Antonia Faulkner about seeing the mayor Bob Rogers intentionally draws a number twice from the box of ping pong balls that Faulkner held for each candidate. Rogers told the Murray Ledger & Times that he dropped the number and took it back, but didn’t pull it twice. Darnell obtained security footage of the draw through an open recording request and posted the video – which he says proves Rogers ‘cheated’ to get the top spot in the ballot – on his personal Facebook page.
Without any procedures outlined in state election laws telling county clerks what to do in the event of a complaint like Darnell’s, Faulkner said she consulted with the Calloway County Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office. of Kentucky for advice. She said she was told that a county electoral board does not have the power to remove a candidate from the ballot, but that a re-draw would be an acceptable answer if both candidates agree. The Board of Directors decided last week to make this proposal to the candidates, with any possible new draw to take place at the next meeting.
The mayoral candidates and several other members of the public gathered in the courthouse conference room on Wednesday morning for the board meeting, and Darnell asked the board to move the public comment portion to the top of the agenda so he can talk to the board members about the issue. . He told the board that if he could not disqualify Rogers from running and had no other recourse, he would rather just leave the ballot as it is with Rogers listed first. He asked Faulkner if the council had watched the security video and if they had come to a clear conclusion about what it showed. Faulkner said it was not up to her or the board to decide if Rogers had done anything wrong.
“The board has no choice,” Faulkner said. “The only option the board has (is a re-draw). We cannot remove a name from a ballot and we certainly would not bring any charges as counsel. That would be a campaign issue for a candidate to do.
Darnell pressed Faulkner to say what she saw in the footage. She said that while she didn’t necessarily see Rogers drop the ball in the video, there’s no way to determine what Rogers’ eyes saw and whether or not he might have known. he had drawn the first or second ballot at that time. .
Darnell said that for future reference, he also wanted to ask if he filed the complaint the right way. If there are no repercussions for allegedly drawing twice, he asked if it was helpful to point that out.
“I’m ultimately trying to figure out if what I did was the right thing,” Darnell said. “I did what I did – stand up and show what I saw – right?” Should we say in the future to candidates who might stand for election? If you see someone doing something improper, should you report it? Or should you just refrain from saying anything?
“Reporting it is important,” Faulkner said. “It’s very similar…to when a (campaign) sign is too close to a polling station, or when someone stands in a polling station with their t-shirt on and applauds. But only so far can the county council agree to this, and then it becomes, again, a campaign issue.
After Faulkner asked if the candidates would sign a statement saying they were being offered a chance to redraw, Darnell said he would not sign a statement, so the board secretary noted in the official minutes that candidates had this option.
Rogers was present at the meeting, but he did not choose to speak during public comments. His campaign then released the following statement from Rogers: “First of all, let me be clear. I attended this morning not because I believe anything bad happened in the first draw. What my opponent claims simply did not happen. I was there because my adversary continues to perpetuate a scurrilous attack on my character and my integrity. And those attacks turned into insinuations that Calloway County officials also made bad decisions. I was here today to try to end this senseless crusade that pushes away the real issues facing the people of the City of Murray and frankly hurts the beautiful community we live in. record of five decades of character, service and integrity. I also support the accomplishments of the City of Murray over the past four years. With the issues we will face in the future, I really don’t care where I stand on the ballot.
“I look forward to a real dialogue on the issues facing our community over the next four years. I hope my opponent will stop focusing on nonsense and start realizing the task at hand for the next mayor of this community. Experience matters and I want to continue working together to move this community forward.
Faulkner said that in the next election cycle, she plans to let candidates pull folded pieces of paper from a basket instead of using ping-pong balls. She said her assistant clerks had done several tests with the paper and the basket and no problems had arisen. Board members agreed that this procedure might have less potential for conflict.