CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Elections officials in some West Virginia counties were ordered Thursday to disregard votes for a state Senate candidate even as she appeals a ruling that she is ineligible to run over a residency requirement.
Andrea Garrett Kiessling filed to run in next Tuesday’s Republican primary in a Senate district spanning five counties. On Wednesday a Kanawha County judge ruled in a voter’s challenge that Kiessling could not seek office because she has not been a resident of the state for the required five years.
Attorneys for Kiessling appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court on Thursday. Among their arguments for a temporary stay of the circuit court ruling, her attorneys argued that the order “will almost certainly resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters” who already cast ballots in the Eighth District.
Early voting for the primary started April 27 and runs through Saturday. Secretary of State spokesman Mike Queen said hundreds of people have already voted in the district.
“I have worked too hard and too many people have helped and supported me to back down now,” Kiessling said in a video posted on social media.
After holding an emergency meeting Thursday, the state Election Commission ordered Secretary of State Mac Warner to work with officials in Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Putnam and Roane counties to refrain from tallying votes cast for Kiessling.
In addition, clerks in those counties were directed by Warner to immediately post signs on polling place doors stating that Kiessling is not an eligible candidate and that votes cast for her will not be counted.
Three other Republican candidates are running in the Senate district primary: Former Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, ex-Democratic Delegate Mark Hunt and Mark Mitchem. Democrat Sen. Richard Lindsay is running unopposed.
This version corrects the district to the Senate Eighth District.