Attorney Karen Faulkner is suing the State Board of Elections to try to appear on the November ballot in what has become a protracted Jefferson County judicial race.
Faulkner filed the complaint electronically in Franklin Circuit Court Thursday after losing a vote recanvassing she had requested to challenge her narrow 17-vote loss in the May 22 ninth division district court primary.
The complaint asserts that the recanvassing itself was a violation of state law by using votes cast for first-place finisher Daniel “Danny” Alvarez, who died on May 23.
Faulkner, who came in third place in the race, contends that the Jefferson County Board of Elections broke state law by “tabulating and recording votes for a candidate who appeared on the ballot but tragically passed away before the County Board either certified the results of the primary election to the Secretary of State or conducted the recanvassing of votes,” according to the lawsuit.
Faulkner’s second-place opponent, Tanisha Hickerson, became the de facto candidate slated to appear on the general election ballot following Alvarez’s death. That outcome was according to an interpretation of state law laid out by the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office, which would keep Alvarez’s first-place win intact, yet because of his death only permit Hickerson onto the ballot.
Because nonpartisan judicial primaries in Kentucky such as this select the top two vote-getters for ballot placement in a general election, Faulkner would remain in third place, and not appear on the general election ballot, according to the state.
The lawsuit also asks for an injunction against the State Board of Elections prohibiting it from formally tabulating Alvarez’s votes, and to issue Faulkner a certificate of nomination to the general election ballot.
The crux of the complaint hinges on two relevant state statutes — KRS 118A.150(6) and KRS 118A.190(2) — which detail procedures for certifying elections results in the event of a candidate’s withdrawal or death.
KRS 118A.150(6) reads:
If after the certification of candidates who will appear on the ballot, any candidate
whose name appears on the ballot shall withdraw or die, neither the precinct
election officers nor the county board of elections shall tabulate or record the
votes cast for the candidate…
“Like everyone in this community, I was deeply saddened by the death of my friend and colleague, Danny Alvarez,” Faulkner said in a statement.
“However,” she continued, “I was also dismayed to learn that shortly after Danny’s tragic passing, the Secretary of State’s Office summarily determined that the State Board of Elections would only certify one candidate to appear on the judicial ballot this fall. This was a close and competitive primary among many qualified candidates, and I believe that state law clearly entitles the voters to have a choice in this fall’s general election.”
Faulkner’s attorneys, David Kaplan and Michael Abate, released a joint statement which said that the complaint was intended to enforce “clear language” of state election law.
“State law requires the Board of Election to certify two candidates for the fall election, and also prohibits both the county and state board of elections from counting votes for a candidate who passes away before the certificates of nomination are issued. We plan to seek a restraining order and temporary injunction that requires the Board of Elections to follow the law and issue a certificate of nomination to Ms. Faulkner.”
A request for comment from Hickerson was not returned.
Here is a copy of Faulkner’s complaint, which she provided to Insider Louisville: