Vote board throws out primary petitions of three candidates

LISBON – The petitions of three candidates – two from East Liverpool and one from Lisbon – were disqualified for the May primary election by the Columbiana County Board of Elections on Friday.

Brian E. Kerr, who was running for the council-at-large seat; Raymond M. Perorazio Sr., the only person seeking the 1st Ward council seat; and Joseph S. Morenz, a Lisbon councilman, were each disqualified due to issues with their petitions.

The petitions of all remaining candidates who filed for the primary were approved.

Kerr, a Democrat, had three proper petitions, but a fourth petition was invalidated because the candidacy statement was signed and dated Feb. 4. There were four petition signatures, which pre-dated the candidacy signature. Those four were determined to be invalid. Kerr had turned in 67 total signatures, but Kerr was left with only 49 of the 50 valid signatures he needed because 14 signatures came from people not registered as voters and were therefore invalid.

Likewise, Morenz, a Republican, had a candidacy statement which was dated on Jan. 31, but two signatures on that petition were dated Jan. 26. Others were disqualified because the signers were not registered voters, which left Morenz with 45 of the 50 he needed. Board of Elections Director Adam Booth pointed out Morenz only filed 54 signatures.

Finally, Perorazio, a Democrat, filed one petition with 21 signatures, but only nine were valid. On a second petition he didn’t sign the circulatory statement at all. Perorazio needed only 25.

The three candidates would still be eligible to run as independents or theoretically could file to be a write in, according to Booth. However, those running as independents would still have to be approved by the board of elections, which could disqualify them if they are currently affiliated as a party leader.

The deadline for candidates to file to run in the general election as independents is May 6. The deadline for write-in candidates to file for the primary is Feb. 25, and the deadline for write-ins in the general election is Aug. 26.

Because of candidates were invalidated and due to a lack of people filing, there are no partisan races for the primary. Only 39 precincts are expected to be open, all of them due to ballot issues such as levies. The county currently has only 89 precincts total.

One local liquor option which was filed by True North Energy, the Shell gas station in Salem, will have to wait until the fall general election because there are no contested races in the precinct.

In another matter, the board of elections received only one bid from a company interested in printing ballots. Election Systems and Software bid 24 1/2 cents per ballot for 14-inch ballots and 27 1/2 cents per ballot for 17-inch ballots.

Booth said he anticipated only the 14-inch ballots would be needed for the primary election and possibly even the general election this year.