Judge rules in favor of state representative Gardner’s challenger

The Associated Press

ROSWELL — A district judge has ruled that the name of a Republican legislative candidate will remain on the primary ballot, rejecting an attempt by her GOP opponent to have her removed.

Lucille B. Tucker of Roswell will face state Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, in the primary for District 66.
Gardner had claimed in a lawsuit filed March 30 that Tucker circulated some petitions that read House District 59, then altered them to read District 66, the correct number of Gardner’s district.

He also contended some signers were not registered Republicans, were of the wrong party, or were not registered to vote in District 66. Disqualifying all the questionable signers would have put Tucker’s signatures below the required 54, making her ineligible to appear on the ballot.

District Judge Charles Currier ruled Thursday that nine signatures had been obtained when the petitions were labeled “District 59,” and he invalidated those.
But he ruled that the signatures obtained after the petitions were altered were valid.

“The alterations and additions made by (Tucker) to the nominating petitions were done as a result of ignorance rather than committed with intent to deceive,” Currier wrote.
Currier ruled that of the 122 signatures submitted by Tucker, 57 were invalid, leaving 65 valid signatures, 11 more than Tucker needed to be on the June primary ballot.

Gardner said he was surprised Currier was not following rules in the Secretary of States candidate guide regarding the altering of petitions.

Gardner also took issue with Curriers ruling that Tucker had altered the petitions due to ignorance rather than with intent to deceive.

“I didn’t know that ignorance was an excuse under the law,” he said.

He said his attorney is considering an appeal.

Tucker acknowledged before this week’s ruling that she made a series of mistakes, including not realizing she lived in District 66, not knowing out-of-district voters couldn’t sign her petitions, and using petitions with the wrong district number so as not to waste paper.

But she has said she did not intend to defraud anyone.