At least for now, Tyler Oberkfell is back on the Madison County ballot for County Board, thanks to a ruling from the appellate court.
Oberkfell is an independent running for District 2, representing Troy. His opponent was Republican Donald Moore, who defeated incumbent Roger Alons in the primary election. Moore had filed an objection to Oberkfell’s petition, which was at first overruled by the Electoral Board, then sustained by a Madison County judge — whose order is now put on hold by the appellate court.
“I am very happy that the appellate court has granted the stay and allowed my name to remain on the ballot,” Oberkfell said. “This is a win for voters. They deserve a choice in who will represent them in District 2 and they now have that choice again.”
Moore could not immediately be reached for comment.
In order to appear on the ballot, each candidate had to get a sufficient number of signatures on a petition. Moore only needed enough signatures to equal 5 percent of registered Republicans who voted in the last gubernatorial election — 19 signatures. But since Oberkfell is an independent, it had to be 5 percent of all voters in the district: 232.
His petition had 273 signatures, but Moore filed an objection, stating that some of the signatures were invalid. After a series of hearings before the Madison County Electoral Board, 39 signatures were disqualified because the signers were not registered to vote at the given address or their address was not in District 2, among other reasons. This left Oberkfell on the ballot by two votes, with a total of 234.
Moore appealed to the circuit court for judicial review. Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis ruled on Aug. 30 that the electoral board had erred in not eliminating four additional signatures found to be invalid during the full binder review, but were not included in Moore’s original objection.
That left Oberkfell two signatures short, and he was removed from the ballot. Oberkfell’s attorney had originally requested the stay, and Barberis declined.
Oberkfell filed an appeal of Barberis’ ruling, alleging that he was never notified of the original hearing date or time, and that Barberis should have recused himself, as both Barberis and Moore are running for election on the Republican ticket. Barberis is currently a candidate for a seat on the 5th District Appellate Court.
However, it’s that same court that ruled Monday on an emergency motion for a stay on Barberis’ ruling. It doesn’t reverse the decision, but it allows Oberkfell to remain on the ballot until the appellate court can decide whether Barberis made the right decision.
It is not known when the appellate court’s final decision might take place. But County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza has said that she must know by Sept. 29 which names will be on the ballot, because that is the first day that she can send out mail-in ballots and absentee voting begins. That deadline comes on Thursday.
Oberkfell has said even if he is eventually removed from the ballot, he would continue to run as a write-in candidate.