JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Less than a week after Jacob Turk submitted the petitions to put his name into the running for the vacant Senate District 8 seat, lawyers from Husch Blackwell, typically the go-to law firm for the Missouri Republican Party, are suing to keep Turk off the ballot as an independent candidate.
In a document obtained by the Missouri Times, Mary Elizabeth Potter of Blue Springs and Rand Wesley Hodgson of Oak Grove are listed in the plaintiffs in the case filed against Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. The suit asks that Secretary of State’s Office review Turk’s submission on the basis that they believe it did not sufficiently meet the requirements.
The plaintiffs contend that Turk did not meet the required deadline, nor the required signatures from registered voters.
According to the law, “when a special election to fill a vacancy is called, neither the secretary of state nor any election authority shall accept for filing any petition for the formation of a new party or for the nomination of an independent candidate which is submitted after 5:00 p.m. on the day which is midway between the day the election is called and the election day.”
Under that language, the plaintiffs argue, the midway point would be Sept. 18, 2017. Turk submitted his petition on Sept. 19, which they say renders the petition untimely, and as such should not have been accepted by the Secretary of State.
Turk was required to submit 629 valid signatures from registered voters. The Jackson County Board of Elections determined that Turk’s submission contained 643 valid signatures, but the plaintiffs also argue those signatures do not all meet the criteria. They contend that seven signatures were obtained after the date on which the signature page was notarized, eleven were counted from individuals not properly registered District 8, and that another ten individuals failed to provide a signature or mark.
In an email sent out to supporters Sunday, Turk called the lawsuit an attempt to take away the only candidate nominated directly by the voters of District 8.
“What do Mary, Rand and their lawyers allege to justify their actions? BTW these are not facts, these are their allegations. This after the election officials went through the petitions with a fine tooth comb,” Turk wrote. “Briefly: the Secretary of State incorrectly set the filing date. People signed after the petition was notarized. People did not properly sign their own names. People not in the district were counted in the number I needed, 629, to be on the ballot.
“Pastors, law enforcement and other first responders, working men and women, retirees, veterans, everyday Americans committed fraud in gathering these signatures of their family, friends and neighbors. I don’t know about you but I am tired of these games trying to eliminate you and yours from the political process. ”
Section 115.333.2, RSMo. states that:
“Within ten days after the secretary of state or the election authority issues a statement setting forth such person’s determination, any registered voter may apply to the circuit court to compel the secretary of state or the election authority to reverse such person’s determination… On showing that any petition filed is not legally sufficient, the court may enjoin all election officials from certifying or printing the name of the independent candidate or new party and its candidates on the official ballot. All such suits shall be advanced on the court docket and heard and decided by the court as quickly as possible. Either party to the suit may appeal to the supreme court within ten days after a circuit court decision is rendered. The circuit court of Cole County shall have jurisdiction if the secretary of state is a party, and otherwise, the circuit court of the county in which the election authority is located shall have jurisdiction.”
As stated, all suits shall be advanced on the court docket and heard as quickly as possible. With the suit electronically filed on Sept. 21, the case is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Sept. 25 at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Daniel Green.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.