Home Election 2020 Board of Elections disqualifies Rep. Jay Edwards’ Democratic challenger

Board of Elections disqualifies Rep. Jay Edwards’ Democratic challenger

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The Athens County Board of Elections voted unanimously Friday to disqualify the only Democrat poised to challenge Republican Rep. Jay Edwards in the November general election because she didn’t meet the state’s residency requirements to run for the Ohio House of Representatives, according to Cleveland.com.

The board was previously split 2-2 along party lines over Democrat Kate O’Neill’s eligibility to run for office, but it received “new information” Friday during a hearing that led the board to disqualify O’Neill, Deputy Director of the Board of Elections Penny Brooks told Cleveland.com. Brooks, however, didn’t elaborate on the details of the unearthed information.

Edwards, who is the majority whip in the House, will now run for reelection uncontested unless an Independent challenger emerges, according to Cleveland.com. He defeated Democrat Taylor Sappington, a Nelsonville resident, by 16 points in 2018.

“Some may view this as me not having an opponent, but I beg to differ. I have a much larger opponent everyday as I go to Columbus to be a voice for Appalachia. For far too long we’ve been left behind,” Edwards told The New Political. 

“Regardless of an opponent on the ballot, given the opportunity to fight for Southeast Ohio, an area I was born and raised, is a much larger challenge that motivates me everyday.” 

O’Neill’s eligibility was originally called into question by Allen Keith Monk, a Nelsonville resident who filed a protest with the Board of Elections. Monk alleged O’Neill — a 2013 Ohio University graduate — wasn’t a resident of District 94 for at least a year prior to the upcoming election and that she circulated petitions to run for office before becoming a registered voter in Athens County, The Athens NEWS reported.

The Ohio Constitution requires members of the Ohio House to be residents of their respective districts for a year before a general election.

O’Neill’s name will still appear on the general election ballot since the filing deadline for candidates passed. The Board of Elections plans to mail disclaimers attached to absentee ballots explaining that votes for O’Neill will not be counted, according to Cleveland.com.

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