Libertarian candidate’s ballot bid thrown out

Libertarian Jeff Amason got his day in court, but it looks like it won’t be enough to reach his goal of being placed on the November ballot for Georgia House District 21.

Amason filed an emergency court appearance with Fulton County Superior Court on July 28, seeking to compel the Secretary of State’s Office to place his name on the ballot after it was disqualified based on a notary error. But when the judge met with the two sides to make a decision in court Monday, there was one problem: Amason had named the wrong person in his lawsuit.

The Cherokee County attorney was representing himself and Jeff Amason for Liberty Inc., his election apparatus, in the case. He filed the suit against Linda Ford, the director of elections in the Secretary of State’s Office. But only Secretary of State Brian Kemp, as Georgia’s chief elections officer, has the ability to grant ballot entry.

Amason said he was previously informed by the Secretary of State’s Office that Ford was the wrong person to sue, but he thought the defense was saying so as a tactic to discourage him from filing the lawsuit.

“I sympathize with your situation,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Adams said. “What I’m going to do, Mr. Amason, is let you take any next steps you believe are appropriate.”

Though Amason can now file a claim against Kemp, his chances of making the ballot are effectively shuttered. That’s because the deadline for ballot candidates is Aug. 29.

State law requires any lawsuit against a chief officer, such as the secretary of state, to give at least five days’ notice before the case can begin. So even if Amason does file another lawsuit, the ballot deadline will have come and gone.

Amason said he was still considering pursuing further legal action, though he could also choose to run as a write-in candidate. If he does, that means incumbent Republican Scot Turner’s name will appear on the ballot unopposed.

“We are considering our next steps,” Amason said. “It’s unfortunate the court declined us on a procedural standpoint alone.”

There was another concern with Amason’s ballot bid.

Amason surpassed the 1,800-signature threshold required to be placed on the ballot against Turner. The majority of those signatures, however, were disqualified because his notary notarized the same petitions that she had also helped circulate, which is against state elections laws.

Amason argued in court that she was granted a special right to do it as a corporate notary, which is given some additional rights under state law compared with other notaries. Adams said she believed the case would have been lost based on her interpretation that the election law covered all types of notaries, though she declined to make a ruling statement since the case had already been dismissed.

“To the extent that it provides any level of comfort to you,” Adams said, “I don’t think you would have prevailed anyway.”