Hearing set for Georgia state Senate candidate over name discrepancy

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Hearing set for Georgia state Senate candidate over name discrepancy

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Montgomery County Board of Elections clerks Priscilla Ritchie and Joshua Pettis reconcile the voter-verified paper record of votes with what electronic touch-screen voting machines recorded. It is part of Ohio’s mandated audit of a sampling of the Nov. 8 vote. Montgomery County’s audit found 100 percent of audited ballots matched the certified election results. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF

A hearing will be held Friday to determine whether state Senate candidate Kay Kirkpatrick is qualified to remain on the ballot.

The Georgia Secretary of State Office received a complaint Monday against Kirkpatrick that alleges she used a different name other than her legal name to run for office.

The case, now under investigation, alleges a problem with Kirkpatrick’s voter registration status in Cobb County. According to online records, Kirkpatrick previously used the name Kay Kirkpatrick Haltom, and sometimes Kay K. Haltom, but when she filed for office, she dropped Haltom.

The Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration will hear the case four days before Tuesday’s special election.

Kirkpatrick is one of the top candidates in the race in state Senate District 32, which Judson Hill vacated earlier this year. He’s running in the 6th Congressional District special election to replace Tom Price, who resigned from the U.S. House to become President Donald Trump’s health secretary. Both special elections are set for the same day.

Kirkpatrick did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The State Election Board will review Kirkpatrick’s case and administer one of three potential outcomes: dismissal, issuance of a letter of instruction, or binding the case over to the Attorney General’s Office for additional proceedings. Because the board is handling the case, the Secretary of State Office could not estimate when the investigation would be completed but said the results would not invalidate the election.

State Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta, who has known the candidate since 2010, said she has never referred to her as anything other than Kay Kirkpatrick, and it would make sense that Kirkpatrick would want to be on the ballot as she is known in the community.

Because women are more likely to change their surnames after getting married, Beskin said women running for office disproportionately face more challenges.

“If there is a name trap, it’s a trap specifically laid for women,” she said.

According to a campaign report filed Monday, Kirkpatrick has received $96,030 in cash donations and $3,318.09 in in-kind donations — more than any of the other seven candidates in the race. Kirkpatrick, the former president of Resurgens Orthopedics who is running for the open seat representing east Cobb County and Sandy Springs, received contributions from Beskin for Georgia; Friends of Deborah Silcox; and Price’s wife, state Rep. Elizabeth Price, according to a February report.

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