69th House District GOP challenger admits to not having lived in district one year by Election Day, argues date should be certificate of election

05/11/2016 07:36 PM

What’s the definition of an election and when is that election over?

Those are the main questions Boone Co. Circuit Judge J.R. Schrand in northern Kentucky is pondering as the fate of political newcomer Danny Seifried’s candidacy is decided ahead of Tuesday’s primary in the 69th House District.

Seifried is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Adam Koenig for the seat, but the two are locked in a court battle over Seifried’s eligibility to represent the district which covers part of Boone and Kenton counties.

Erlanger resident Lucy Riffle has filed suit, claiming Seifried will not have lived in the district by the constitutionally mandated minimum one year before the election.

In a twist, a lawyer for Seifried told the Boone Circuit Court on Tuesday that the Nielsen analyst will not have lived in the district one year before Nov. 8, the day ballots are cast. Instead, the attorney is saying his client will meet the one-year requirement by the time the Board of Elections certifies the results, and that, he says, is what matters.

Seifried “actually has no later than the third Monday in November 2016 (i.e., November 28, 2016) to satisfy the one-year residency requirement at Ky. Const. 32, because that day is ‘the time of his election’ pursuant to KRS 118.425(5) and (6),” Robert Winter wrote.

“The state representative for the 69th legislative district is ‘elected,’ for purposes of Ky. Const. 32, when the State Board of Elections issues its certificate of election to the candidate garnering the highest number of votes,” Winter continued in response to the allegations. “Thus, (Seifried) satisfied the one-year residency requirements under any set of facts pled by movant with her Complaint or motion.”

At the heart of the matter is one clause inside Kentucky’s Constitution, which was ratified in 1891.

In the court documents, Seifried essentially admits that he moved into the district on Nov. 16, 2015. The general election will take place on Nov. 8, which Koenig says in a court pleading should be “determinative of his qualifications for office.”

Seifried responded to a request for comment on the court hearing in a text message Wednesday, saying he hopes the people of the district have a choice for state representative next week.

“My sincerest hope is that the people of 69th district have the choice to decide who will represent them on May 17th,” Seifried said in the message to Pure Politics.

Meanwhile, Koenig thinks either way he is in good shape for the primary on Tuesday, but he has concerns with his opponent’s argument in court.

In court filings, Koenig says that Seifried’s argument takes the legal position that “when the Framers wrote the Residency Requirement they were not referring to the day ballots are cast by the people, but instead some floating date determined by when the Board of Elections certified results.”

“The stupefying reasoning behind such an argument does not pass Constitutional muster or rational logic,” Koenig wrote.

In a phone interview with Pure Politics, Koenig put it more bluntly, saying his opponent “thinks the election is in Frankfort, not here in the 69th district.”

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is named to the case in her official capacity as the chief elections official in the commonwealth, took no position on the case in pleadings with the court. She did, however, address the appropriate response in the case that Seifried is found to not be a qualified candidate.

County clerks were required to print ballots for the May 17 primary no later than March 28, which would not allow county clerks to strike his name from the ballot in time for the Tuesday’s primary, if a judge ordered.

Because, Grimes wrote in her pleading, state statute does not provide for the removal of a candidate’s name after candidates have been certified and ballots printed, county clerks would notify precinct officers to post a notice at the polling location that votes for disqualified candidates will not be counted.

The judge in the case has not indicated when a ruling will be presented.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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