From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 42 - January 11, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Defense answers plaintiffs call for new election

by Janet Montgomery

Defense argues that will of the people should not be overturned in the civil dispute over the May 2, town election.

With a request for partial summary judgment filed by the plaintiffs in December, the defendants filed their objection to the motion Monday in the civil case contesting the May 2, municipal election in Pinedale.

The defense entered its argument against the motion Monday, Jan. 8, 2007.

“The fact that defendant David m. Smith and defendant Erik Ashley were not registered voters or electors when they executed their election applications obviously had no impact on the outcome or validity of the election,” according to the document. “The will of the people should not be overturned on the mere irregularities upon which plaintiff bases the suit and his motion.”

The suit filed on May 30, claims that two of the candidates, David M. Smith and Erik Ashley, were not qualified electors as they failed to meet the registered voter requirement and should not have been on the ballot. With the most votes of any candidate at 183, Smith was elected to the Pinedale Town Council along with Chris House, who is also named as a defendant in the suit along with Ashley and Pinedale Town Clerk Patty Racich.

The plaintiffs, Robert Brito, who was also a candidate in the election, along with fellow Pinedale resident Loretta Deats, filed the civil action asking the May 2 municipal election to be annulled and David Hohl, the candidate with the third highest number of votes, take the council seat, according to court documents.

The defendants, represented by town Attorney Ed Wood, argue in the Jan. 8, documents that the plaintiff’s challenge of the election must fail “as the town of Pinedale has by charter ordinance elected not to conduct its elections in the same manner as statewide elections.”

The plaintiff’s argument also gives an alternative, saying the court should order a special election because the number of miscast votes exceeds the number received by any candidate.

While Smith received 183 votes and Ashley 53, the plaintiff’s motion says, “Thus, a total of 236 votes were miscast by innocent voters who did not know that they were voting for ineligible candidates. Because Chris House, the second place vote getter, received only 125 votes, slightly more than half the miscast votes, the canvassing board cannot determine who won the election.”

The documents claim that if Smith and Ashley were taken off the ballots, any of the remaining five candidates could have been the first place vote getter, so the canvassing board cannot tell which candidates were elected, and the court should order a special election to be held.

While the fact that Smith and Ashley were not registered to vote at the time of the election, is not disputed by the defendants, rather, documents indicate that state statutes allow for municipalities to elect to not conduct elections in the same manner as statewide elections with a charter ordinance.

In the Jan. 8, response, the defendants say that the plaintiff’s argument that the election should be cast out as the votes for Smith and Ashley were “miscast” fails as not being listed as registered voters does at the time does not disqualify them as Smith and Ashley became registered voters as soon as they were made aware of the fact that they weren’t on the May 2, election day.

In conclusion, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs have not alleged impropriety in the election other than the two candidates not registered to vote at the time of the election, and the plaintiffs are not entitled to a summary judgment in the case.

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