On Sunday, a Polk County Judge ruled that former Representative Abby Finkenauer is ineligible to participate in the upcoming primary because she failed to meet Iowa’s signature requirement.
District Judge Scott Beattie issued his ruling on Sunday.
Finkenauer is running for a seat in the Senate and, according to The Daily Caller, was considered a “likely favorite in the Democrat pool, though most polls project that incumbent Chuck Grassley (R) will win the race.
The judge’s decision to remove Finkenauer from the ballot was made on the slimmest of margins. Beattie rejected three signatures, which dropped Finkenauer below the required 100 signatures from 19 counties.
The primary is scheduled for June 7; absentee voting begins on May 18.
Political Analyst Jeff Stein tweeted Judge Beattie’s decision and noted that an appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court is expected.
According to The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s Secretary of State noted that Finkenauer can appeal the ruling but must do so before April 15.
The Finkenauer campaign released this statement:
“Our campaign submitted more than 5,000 signatures, 1,500 more signatures than are required to qualify for the ballot. We are confident that we have met the requirements to be on the ballot.”
The campaign noted that in March, a State Election Panel ruled that Finkenauer met the signature requirement.
“We are exploring all of our options to fight back hard against this meritless partisan attack, and to ensure that the voices of Iowans will be heard at the ballot box.”
The local Gazette reported that Republican officials challenged Finkenauer’s signature submissions in late March, arguing that three signatures should be excluded after the signatories incorrectly entered the date on the petition.
The State Panel acknowledged the error but accepted the signatures stating that the Finkenauer campaign “substantially complied” with signature requirements.
On Sunday, Judge Beattie overruled that decision, stating that the “Panel incorrectly reviewed the signatures and could not employ such a loose interpretation of the law.”
In considering three signatures invalid, Finkenauer finds herself just short the required number of signatures to move forward her campaign.
Beattie’s ruling continues: “No appellate court in Iowa has adopted ‘substantial compliance’ in voting matters which could support the Panel’s interpretation.
Beattie added: “Interpreting the statute as including only ‘substantial compliance’ renders Iowa Code 43.15 meaningless.”
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