The Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed a Circuit Court decision that threw out last November’s mayoral race. The court posted its finding Friday.
The decision was split, with two judges voting to reverse the decision and a dissenting opinion by a third judge.
The ruling means Mayor Curtis Hardwick will remain in office as mayor. However, Ben Arnold, who filed the original lawsuit, can appeal the ruling.
The ruling also answers the question of whether the Board of Elections has the right to file an appeal:
“… the statute governing the appeals of election contests, grants the Board a right of appeal. It states in relevant part: “Any party may appeal to the Court of Appeals from a judgment [in an election contest].” The Board was a party below. It therefore has standing to appeal and we will address the merits of its arguments.”
As far as the findings, the ruling states:
“Upon first blush, it appears that this election was ripe to be set aside for incompetence and incomprehensible carelessness. Unfortunately, that is not the standard that, as a matter of law, we are bound to apply. Rather, it has long been the law in Kentucky that mandates us to determine solely whether this election should be voided only if it cannot be fairly determined who was elected, not whether voters might lose confidence in the election process. See Stewart v. Wurts, 143 Ky. 39, 135 S.W. 434 (1911). The requirement that an election result must stand if the successful candidate can be fairly determined is also statutory.”
“Accordingly, the standard that Arnold must meet is soaring. In sum, he had the burden to affirmatively show by clear and convincing evidence, not only that there were irregularities, but also that despite even irregularities, that it “cannot be reasonably determined who was elected.” With these high standards in mind, we move forward with our review.”
“To say this was shoddy election that does not reflect the principles upon which our country was founded is a gross understatement. However, that is
not our standard by which we are held by the law to review this matter. Given the evidence, even with the irregularities, there is nonetheless a reasonable method for determining the successful candidate here. The record reflects two figures for potentially disenfranchised voters: the 13 who either testified at trial or signed affidavits, and the 53 miscoded voters Arnold counted on the rosters who may have voted the wrong ballot. Thus, the record reflects a total of 66 potentially disenfranchised voters. Of the 1273 votes cast in the mayoral race, the successful candidate, Curtis Hardwick, received 562 while Arnold received 383, a difference of 179 votes. Even assuming all 66 voters were indeed disenfranchised, and assuming they all would have cast their votes for Arnold, his total vote count would be 449, well shy of the 562 votes garnered by Hardwick. In short, Hardwick can clearly be judged to have been fairly elected. While the difference in the total vote is not great (regardless of whether the votes are considered either before or after the election contest), Arnold has not met his burden of coming forth with clear and convincing evidence of record to disprove that the Court can reasonably
determine that Hardwick was the victor in this election.”
See the complete ruling by selecting the link below: