FROM CAMPBELL CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE FRED A. STINE, V, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 16-CI-00966
FOR APPELLANT: Michael L. Schulkens
FOR APPELLEE: Jeffrey C. Mando Louis D. Kelly
BEFORE: KRAMER, CHIEF JUDGE; CLAYTON AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.
Stoecklin, a voter in the City of Newport, Kentucky, appeals
from the opinion and order of the Campbell Circuit Court
dismissing his action for injunctive relief and declaration
of rights, and certifying the election of Elisabeth Fennell
as a Newport City Commissioner. The sole dispute on appeal is
whether by signing Fennell's nomination petition early,
before November 4, 2015, voters rendered their signatures
ineffective, thus depriving Fennell of having a valid
nomination petition and voiding her subsequent election.
to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 118.315(2) to be placed on
the general election ballot for the position of city
commissioner, Fennell was required to file a nominating
petition declaring that she possessed all the statutory and
constitutional requirements for her office, with two
signatures by registered voters. It is undisputed that
Fennell was personally qualified to be a candidate for city
commissioner and her petition contained four signatures by
118.315(2) also specifies that "[e]ach petitioner shall
include the date he or she affixes the signature, address of
residence, and date of birth. Failure of a voter to include
the signature affixation date, date of birth, and address of
residence shall result in the signature not being
counted." It is undisputed that each of the voters
petitioning for Fennell to be placed on the ballot fully
complied with this provision.
KRS 118.315(2) and KRS 83A.045(2)(a), (b)1 provide that
"[s]ignatures for nomination papers shall not be affixed
on the document to be filed prior to the first Wednesday
after the first Monday in November of the year preceding the
year in which the office will appear on the ballot." KRS
83A.045(2)(a), (b)1 also sets the deadline for filing the
nomination petition. These statutes do not specify the result
of failing to comply with these provisions.
first Wednesday after the first Monday in November 2015 was
November 4, 2015. Fennell filed her nomination petition
timely on November 9, 2015, with signatures by four voters
that indicated one signed on October 19, 2015, one signed on
November 2, 2015, and two signed on November 3, 2015.
to statute, the county clerk was to examine Fennell's
nominating petition to determine if it was "regular on
its face" and notify her of any error. KRS 118.315(4);
KRS 83A.170(4). Fennell did not receive any notice of error.
November 7, 2016, the day before the general election,
Stoecklin filed a complaint pursuant to KRS 118.176
challenging Fennell's bona fides. He argued because all
signatures were affixed to Fennell's nominating papers
prior to November 4, 2015, these signatures were invalid and
should be stricken, disqualifying Fennell for election. He
argued the Campbell County Board of Elections should,
therefore, be required to strike Fennell from the rolls or
refuse to count votes cast on her behalf.
case was not heard before the general election. At the
general election, Fennel received the third most votes
resulting in her reelection as a city commissioner.
circuit court found that Fennell's failure to obtain the
required signatures on or after November 4, 2015, was a
technical violation of a directory part of the statute that
was not essential to the validity of the election, affirmed