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Silvey challenges opponent’s residency

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sen. Ryan Silvey challenged his opponent’s residency eligibility in the district in a lawsuit filed last week and is seeking to disqualify him from the ballot.

The Kansas City Republican’s opponent, Josiah Bechthold, hasn’t maintained residency within the district for the year leading up to the election, Silvey’s lawsuit alleges.

“According to both the Jackson County and Clay County Election Boards, on Nov. 8, 2015, Mr. Bechthold was registered to vote in Jackson County, which is outside of the 17th District,” Silvey said in a statement. “It is vitally important that we protect the integrity of our electoral process and respect the Constitution that governs us.

“If the courts allow him to proceed, I look forward to a spirited race to represent the people of the 17th District,” he continued. “However, I believe if Mr. Bechthold is allowed to remain on the ballot, it will erode the trust Missourians place in their government and am therefore compelled to bring this action.”

Bechthold had been registered to vote at his parents’ address up until October 2015. That month, he moved his registration to Raytown, outside of the district.

“Records from the Jackson County Board of Elections identify that Mr. Bechthold became a registered voter in Jackson County on October 1, 2015. Mr. Bechthold remained a registered voter in Jackson County until at least January, 2016,” Silvey’s filing said.

He became a registered voter in the Clay County district in February this year.

“On January 24, 2016, Mr. Bechthold, for the first time within the one-year residency period of November 8, 2015 through November 8, 2016, registered to vote in Clay County, Missouri and thereafter became a registered voter in Clay County, effective February 2, 2016. February 2, 2016 is less than one year prior to the date of the forthcoming November 8, 2016 election,” the filing continued.

At a preliminary hearing Monday, Bechthold appeared in court without an attorney and wearing a t-shirt.

The case will be resolved next Monday in a bench trial. It’s going through an expedited process because of the election.

This isn’t the first case of challenged residency this election cycle. In the spring, Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, challenged a potential primary challengers residency. She was removed from the ballot because she had not been registered to vote in the district for a year prior to the election.

Attempts to contact Bechthold were unsuccessful.