Elbert County Republicans will now have two options in the District I primary for county commissioner, scheduled for June 28. According to Rhonda Braun, Elbert County elections manager, Republican Jim Whistler successfully petitioned to have his …
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Elbert County Republicans will now have two options in the District I primary for county commissioner, scheduled for June 28. According to Rhonda Braun, Elbert County elections manager, Republican Jim Whistler successfully petitioned to have his name placed on the party's primary ballot.
In a statement released April 5, Whistler wrote, “Elbert County history is being changed today. The citizens of our county have voiced their support for, not only my candidacy, but for competition in elections.”
Whistler announced his candidacy in early February but chose not to participate in the Republican county assembly in March, opting instead to petition county Republicans directly for the opportunity to face Chris Richardson in the June primary.
He presented 939 signatures to the clerk's office shortly after 2 p.m. on April 4, three hours before the submission deadline, and County Clerk Dallas Schroeder and his team immediately began checking the integrity of each notarized petition, counting the total signatures submitted, and began verifying each signature.
To qualify for the primary ballot, Whistler needed to obtain 634 verified signatures or 20 percent of the total Republican participation in the 2014 District I primary. Of the signatures he submitted, 751 were validated.
Schroeder said that he recommends that petitioners collect anywhere from 25 to 30 percent over the minimum requirement to allow for ineligible signatures. Names such as Robert or William may appear as Bob or Bill as long as the addresses and signatures match.
“As long as we can read the name and match the address in SCORE, it counts,” said Braun. “If we can't read the name, it doesn't count.”
Petition signees must have been registered to vote as a Republican in Elbert County at least 29 days prior to signing. Names, signatures, and addresses were verified in the Statewide Colorado Registration and Election system (known as SCORE), the same database used by election judges to verify ballot signatures during elections.
The county had until April 29 to approve and submit Whistler's name for inclusion on the primary ballot, but Schroeder said on April 4 that his office would make the signature verifications a priority for the week and was able to complete the process by the morning of April 7.
In his statement, Whistler thanked his petition managers and the people who supported his effort.
“They have displayed grace under pressure,” he wrote. “I want to thank the people who signed my petition and the hundreds of citizens who have talked with me about their concerns for this county.”
The winner of the June primary moves on to face Democrat challenger Marie Soderberg in November's general election to replace District I Commissioner Robert Rowland, who chose not to stand for re-election.
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