POMEROY — A 3-1 vote by the Meigs County Board of Elections on Wednesday morning approved the write-in candidate declaration of Moe Hajivandi for the November ballot.
Hajivandi is running for Meigs County Commissioner against incumbent Tim Ihle (R).
The write-in candidate filed in late August for the race, after having withdrawn from consideration as an independent candidate earlier in the year.
The question was raised by Ihle following the August filing as to if Hajivandi had “timely withdrawn” his first filing in order to be eligible to file as a write-in.
The Board of Elections first met on Sept. 11 regarding the matter, at which time the board asked Prosecutor James K. Stanley to provide a legal opinion on the candidacy.
At the board’s Sept. 19 meeting, Stanley provided a written opinion based on case law which had been cited by the Secretary of State’s Office in a tie-breaking decision for the Franklin County Board of Elections earlier this year in a similar case.
In the opinion, Stanley stated that, in his opinion, Hajivandi was a valid write-in candidate.
Board member Jimmy Stewart, who was the lone “no” vote, asked if the wording of Hajivandi’s withdraw letter in June was still a relevant concern. (The matter had been brought up at the previous meeting).
The letter by Hajivandi stated that he was withdrawing his “petition” as an independent candidate. By law, a person can withdraw their candidacy, but cannot withdraw their petition.
Board member Paula Wood stated that the board knew Hajivandi’s intention with the withdraw. He had verbally stated his withdraw in the Board of Elections June meeting, bringing the letter in later in the day.
Stewart asked Hajivandi at this week’s meeting regarding his intent with the withdraw, to which Hajivandi stated it was to withdraw his candidacy.
Board member Charlie Williams stated that unless an individual reads the Ohio Revised Code closely they would not know the difference in withdrawing a petition or withdrawing candidacy. Stanley agreed with the statement.
The withdraw came as the board was discussing the independent candidate petition of Hajivandi, according to the letter from Stanley to the board as part of his legal opinion. The matter of concern with his status as an independent candidate was that Hajivandi had voted a Republican ballot for the May primary which was after the independent filing deadline. Hajivandi told the board, at the June meeting, he was not given the option to vote an “issues only” ballot when he voted in the primary.
As Hajivandi withdrew, the board did not act on the independent candidate filing.
When it comes to voting in the November election, Ihle’s name will be the only one listed on the ballot, with a blank space to write-in Hajivandi if the voter would like to vote for him. Either way, the voter must fill in the circle beside the person they wish to vote for.
As Hajivandi’s last name could be difficult to spell, the matter was discussed on Tuesday as to if the correct spelling would be required.
According to the board of elections, as long as the intent of the voter is clear the write-in vote would count. In this case, as there is only one write-in candidate, writing “Moe” or “Moe H.” could be considered a vote for Hajivandi as long as the circle is also filled in.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.