Election challenger request fails

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What had the initial appearance of a sure challenger thing quickly turned into a dead issue and left some in the Magoffin County Democrat Party wondering exactly what happened.
A required percentage (25 percent) of Democrat candidates initially signed on in favor of having a challenger at each voting precinct during May’s primary election, but at least six of those had their names removed soon after the list was presented to the party’s chairman..
The challenger issue, which is legally available under certain guidelines, was initiated by former Magoffin County Clerk H. B. Arnett, who is challenging Charles Hardin, who currently serves as Democrat Party Chairman, for the judge-executive office which Hardin holds.
Challengers can remain at their designated polling place and offer challenges to a voter they think is not eligible to vote for one reason or another.
Arnett said he wanted the challengers because he felt his opponent had too much influence over those selected to serve on the individual precinct boards.
“I have worked as county clerk under five different Democrat chairmen and I have never seen anything like this,” Arnett said. “I have never seen so many people serving on the voting boards that have that much connection with one candidate.
“There are at least 18 people directly connected to him. He has a lock on every board. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’re pretty good people but when you have it that one-sided you’d like to have someone to make sure things are done the way they should be done.”
Arnett said he first asked Hardin to allow for challengers and he refused. Then, Arnett said, he followed required avenues and secured 12 candidate signatures and provided the list to the chairman, which had to be done at least 30 days prior to the election.
Six of the 12 candidates, though, reportedly had their names taken off. No official list of removed names was publicly available, but one of the six said he simply changed his mind, decided he didn’t want to challenge anyone, and asked that his name be removed.
Without the required names, no requirement was made to use challengers. That list had to be provided to the county clerk 20 days prior to the election.
“The bottom line is there weren’t enough candidates requesting challengers,” Hardin said. “Six of the 12 that had signed asked that their names be taken off and that left an insufficient number asking for challengers.”
Hardin also said the precinct board members were experienced and trustworthy and he saw no need for challengers.
“Eighty five percent of the election officers working the May primary are the same people that have been doing it for several years,” he said. “We have very good people doing excellent work in a job that isn’t exactly an easy one to do.
“We can trust the people on these boards and I think we should count our blessings that we have such high caliber people who are willing to do it.”
Arnett, though, still isn’t convinced he is playing on a level political field.
“If I win it will be because of the solid vote,” he said. “I know I have an uphill battle, but if the solid voters turn out then I’ll be in good shape.”