New election to be held for Freedom Trustee 3
April 14, 2021
District Judge Justin Eilers determined Wednesday that an irregularity occurred in the April 6 municipal election for Freedom Trustee No. 3.
Before the hearing began, members of the Woods County Election Board opened their meeting with Arden Chaffee presiding and members Larry Schmidt and Election Board Secretary Sandra Koehn present.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Mitchell and Koehn gave the only testimony. The hearing was called after one of the two candidates filed a petition for irregularity with the county election board alleging a person from outside the city limits of Freedom voted in the election. Michelle Shelite stated the outcome of the election between her and Shad Brackin could not be determined with mathematical certainty if that voter was determined ineligible. In the election, Shelite and Brackin had a 45-45 tie.
After refreshing himself on state statutes, Judge Eilers asked several questions of Koehn. He determined that Shelite, who was present but did not speak, had accompanied her petition with the required $250 certified cashier’s check.
Koehn provided the judge with the petition and later with a copy of the voter roll from the precinct. She had circled the voter in question, Kellie Nusser. Eilers asked how Nusser was able to vote if she did not live inside the city limits. Koehn said she presented herself to vote, and the precinct official failed to check that she was eligible. Koehn said Nusser should have been given a provisional ballot that would have been checked later for validity.
Asked how she determined eligibility (boundaries of Freedom city limits), Koehn said she used a map provided and validated in January. She also told the judge there was no way to determine how Nusser voted.
Judge Eilers asked what outcome was being sought. Koehn said if he determined the election could not be determined and wrote that opinion, the election board would write to the governor. Then he would call a new election for that seat.
Eilers asked if DA Mitchell had anything to say. He asked Koehn if she believed the remedy as outlined was the most fair way to resolve the election. Koehn answered in the affirmative.
Judge Eilers stated it was the ruling of the court that the outcome of the election was impossible to determine with mathematical certainty.
With that ruling, Koehn can apply to the governor for a new election date.
Judge Eilers declared a recess. The judge and election board officials were to meet elsewhere in the courthouse where the sheriff’s office was securing ballot boxes and election workers were standing by. A manual recount of the Alva Ward 4 voting was to begin following another challenge.