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Clerk candidates’petitions verified

Eight candidates who scrambled Friday to correctly qualify just under the deadline in the special election for Lincoln County circuit clerk have been verified and cleared for the ballot, said interim Circuit Clerk Sherry Jordan.

     On Monday, the circuit clerk’s office completed verification of petitions submitted Friday by 5 p.m. for eight of the nine candidates who’d previously declared for the race.

     Candidates for special election are required to submit petitions signed by 50 registered voters of the county, but Jordan’s office was unaware of this requirement until Friday, the final day for candidates to qualify for the special election, and had not been collecting the petitions.

     Verified totals were unavailable, but the approximate, unverified totals for each candidate were as follows: Dustin Bairfield, 96; Josh Davis, 70; Heather White Martin, 98; Janie Wallace Sisco, 66; L. Mike Smith, 97; Paula Thames Smith, 90; Terry Reid, 60; and Mike Walley, 71.

     “After 50, we went on and verified, but I don’t know if we kept count,” Jordan said.

     Lenard King had previously announced his candidacy but was the lone candidate that failed to submit a petition. He told Jordan he was out of the town and could not collect the signatures.

     King could not be reached for comment.

     Bairfield and Sisco did know of the petition requirement and already had theirs prepared in advance of Friday’s deadline.

     Jordan’s office began Friday verifying that the petitions were signed by registered voters and finished Monday.

     She could only recall a few signatures determined to not be registered voters. There was one other small hitch discovered.

     “We found a couple places where someone had signed twice,” Jordan said.

     The same person can sign the petition of different candidates, but can only sign each individual petition once.

     Jordan said she’s not been contacted by any of the candidates with further questions or concerns.

     “Not a word,” Jordan said.

     Jordan had been collecting qualifying papers for a party election in which each candidate declared party affiliate and paid a qualifying fee.

     However, candidates in a special election run like independent candidates. Jordan said she was able to copy the information from the previous forms onto the corrected ones and had each candidate sign the corrected version Friday.

     She plans to refund the $15 fees she’d collected.

     Jordan was contacted Friday by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann after his office became aware of the qualifying mishap.

     The special election is scheduled for Nov. 6 to fill the unexpired term of Terry Lynn Watkins, who resigned in January. A runoff will follow on Nov. 27 if needed.

     No party affiliations will be listed for candidates on the ballot.