ALBION — Two people filed challenges to the results of Wolcottville’s Aug. 21 Republican town convention, but then neither showed up at Monday’s Noble County Election Board hearing to make their case.
After re-reading the convention rules and receiving no counterargument, election board members opted to uphold the results of the convention.
Two people — John M. Wood and Christopher Gene Landers — filed a formal challenge with Noble County about town council nominee Steve Cords, who won the GOP nomination for a council seat and ousted an incumbent board member.
The clerk-treasurer race, in which Lauren Newsome beat incumbent June Wood, was not challenged, Noble County Republican Party Chairman Seth Tipton said.
In their written challenges, John Wood and Landers disputed whether Cords was an eligible candidate for the seat.
Landers was one of the five candidates in the town council race that was won by Cords.
Cords, who had recently moved back to Wolcottville after living in Alaska for many years, was not allowed to vote in the convention because he did not have a Republican voting record, having not voted in the 2018 Republican primary since he hadn’t returned to the area yet.
“I was not allowed to because I did not vote in the primary … I was in Alaska in that point,” Cords said Monday.
That decision to keep Cords from voting was the correct one, based on rules for Republican town conventions, election board members stated Monday. But the two challenges targeted Cords’ candidacy as a Republican for the seat, and that’s a very different case.
“He was not a declared Republican. He was not even able to vote, but he is a registered voter,” Noble County Clerk and election board member Shelley Mawhorter said. “To be on the ballot, it does not state you need to have voted in a prior primary.”
By filling out the paperwork for candidacy, Cord was declaring himself as a Republican, Tipton said. Since he didn’t have a recent voting history one way or the other in Indiana, he did not require any special support from the local party.
For candidates who have a longer voter history with a different party than the one they’re filing for, they have to get permission in writing from the party to be eligible. For example, a person who has voted year after year in the Democratic primary would need to be approved if they later wanted to file as a Republican nominee for office.
“When you file to run, you are declaring in writing I am a Republican,” Tipton said. “Because he had never declared a party previously, he was not required to have a letter from the party chair stating he is a Republican.”
Cords said he has an extensive history in voting for Republicans, both in LaGrange County prior to moving to Alaska and then while in Alaska. But voting records from before he moved in 1984 don’t exist any more and the county clerk can’t pull a voting record from another state.
Neither of the two challengers showed up to the election board meeting Monday. Mawhorter confirmed that both had been sent a certified notice of the meeting and both had signed that they received it.
With no argument, after a brief deliberation, Democratic election board member Lori Jansen moved that the challenges were “unsubstantiated” and that the board uphold the convention results.
The measure passed unanimously with support from Republican board member Greg Bricker and Mawhorter.