candidate contest
Aimee Majoue, U.S. Senate candidate Jason Bollinger's attorney, speaks to the Oklahoma State Election Board during the opening procedures of the 2022 contest of candidacy hearings on Monday, April 25, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

After conducting nearly 17 hours of candidate contest hearings that started Monday morning and concluded early Tuesday morning, the Oklahoma State Election Board struck three prospective candidates from their respective ballots.

Brian Young (who had filed for Oklahoma County district judge), Jennifer Kerstetter (who had filed for House District 65), and LaShanya Nash (who had filed for House District 85) were all stricken from their respective ballots.


Sean Roberts

What’s in a nickname? Election Board strikes ‘The Patriot’ from Sean by Megan Prather

Young was the only stricken candidate for whom the State Election Board conducted a full hearing. Kerstetter and Nash admitted to their candidacy filing mistakes during morning procedures and did not appear for their scheduled hearings before the board later that day.

Most of the hearings were based on arguments of residency or candidacy filing. All but one vote made by the State Election Board were unanimous.

The contest of candidacy hearings were live-streamed and can still be viewed on the Oklahoma State Election Board’s YouTube channel.

Living with his auntie and uncle in southeast OKC

Brian Young was stricken from the ballot for Oklahoma County District Judge in Office 2 of Judicial District 7 after a unanimous 3-0 vote by the State Election Board.

Incumbent Kaitlyn Allen filed a petition alleging Young was not a legal resident of electoral division number three at the time he filed his declaration of candidacy and therefore is ineligible to run for the post.

Young testified during cross-examination that he finished the move to his current-but-temporary home — his aunt and uncle’s home — within electoral division number three in April, and did so prior to filing for office. Young testified that he moved into the division in order to run for the post.

Young testified that he helps care for his aunt and is not paying rent at the home.

Young also testified that his wife and their dogs still reside at their old home. Young said he and his wife’s intention is to sell the old house, and move into a new home. Young testified that he is still making rent and utility payments at his old residence, and his wife is currently “house shopping.”

“We don’t know when she is going to find the one, but that is the plan,” Young testified.

Edwards retained on Muskogee County DA ballot

A petition to strike incumbent Larry Edwards from the Muskogee County district attorney ballot was denied Monday by a unanimous 3-0 vote by the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Muskogee County district attorney candidate Matthew Price alleged that incumbent Larry Edwards was not registered to vote in Muskogee County for six months prior to the filing period and therefore ineligible to file for office.

Edwards was appointed to the Muskogee County DA position by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Oct. 13, and a change in his voter registration from Tulsa County to Muskogee County was finalized on Oct. 14.

Price, who represented himself during the hearing, argued that Edwards needed to change his registration by Oct. 12, 2021, to meet the six-month requirement to be eligible to run for office.

In his opening statement, Joe White, Edwards’ attorney, claimed Edwards filed his voter registration application on Oct. 4.

Price claimed that the Oct. 4, 2021, date is the “transaction date,” and the “audit date” or “activation date” is Oct. 14, 2021. Price argued that Edwards was not eligible to vote in Muskogee County prior to the activation date, which was after the Oct. 12 cutoff date.

White read Title 26, Section 4-110.1 aloud during his closing remarks.

“Registration for candidate filing or party affiliation purposes occurs at the earliest time the completed voter registration application is received at the State Election Board,” White said. “Those are not my words. Those are law words.”

Stanley Stevens: ‘I don’t hide my past’

A petition to strike House District 79 candidate Stanley Stevens from the ballot was denied by a 2-1 vote from the State Election Board. Chairman Tom Montgomery and Vice Chairman Tim Mauldin voted against the motion to strike Stevens from the ballot, while election board member Heather Cline voted for the motion.

Karen Gilbert, another House District 79 candidate, filed a petition against Stevens alleging that he pleaded guilty to felony distribution of a controlled substance, conspiracy to distribute drugs and possession of drugs in 2008, and therefore cannot run for office until 15 years after the completion of his sentence.

Gilbert could not produce any court records proving Stevens had pleaded guilty to the charges, but she told the board that she believes Stevens had his record expunged from the Oklahoma State Courts Network prior to the hearing, and that media reports of the pleading exist.

“Those court records were on the OSCN two months ago,” Gilbert said. “On the day that I filed my petition, they were not there.”

Election board member Heather Cline asked Stevens if he has ever pleaded guilty to a felony within the last 15 years.

“The legal answer to that question is no,” Stevens said.

In his closing arguments, Stevens argued further that he is not legally a felon after the expungement from his record.

“I don’t hide my past. I’m not proud of it. But the law is the law,” Stevens said. “And the law says this has never occurred.”

Lafferty retained on Blaine County ballot

A petition to strike sitting Blaine County Associate District Judge Allison Lafferty from the ballot was denied by a unanimous 3-0 vote from the State Election Board.

A petition filed by Jenna Brown, an opposing candidate for Blaine County associate district judge, alleged that Lafferty is not an “actual resident” of Blaine County.

Brown’s attorney, Sammy Duncan, argued that Lafferty’s primary residence is in Yukon, within Canadian County. Lafferty testified that she and her husband, Todd Lafferty purchased a home in Yukon.

Former Blaine County Assistant District Attorney Erik Roscom — who recently resigned from his post — testified that there were instances where Lafferty left the courthouse early to get back to her Yukon home.

Lafferty said during her opening statement that she has an adult son who has been diagnosed with severe schizophrenia. Roscom also testified that Lafferty often spoke about her concerns regarding her son being left alone at the Yukon home.

Lafferty’s husband, Todd Lafferty said he and his wife do not like to leave their son alone over night at the house in Yukon, and that their son needs the mental health resources that are offered in a bigger city like Yukon.

“She has stayed in Yukon more often than Blaine County in the last six months,” Todd Lafferty said.

Allison Lafferty delivered a narrative, stating that the Yukon house “was always a second home.”

“I have never looked for a home to change my residence,” Allison Lafferty said.

Lowe kept on HD 97 ballot

Incumbent Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) will remain on the ballot for House District 97 after a petition to remove him was denied in a unanimous 3-0 vote by the State Election Board. A similar petition against Lowe failed in 2020.

Lisa Janloo, a challenging candidate for House District 97, alleged that Lowe does not live within the district.

After waiving the opportunity to deliver an opening statement, Chad Moody, Janloo’s attorney, asked if Lowe would be willing to show his location on his phone, claiming it would quickly “put the issue to rest.”

“Absolutely not,” Lowe answered.

During closing remarks, Moody criticized Lowe for not showing his phone upon his request.

“The very fact that Mr. Lowe is scared to have his phone seen and his location seen should alert suspicion in all of you,” Moody said.

Wheeler allowed to amend candidacy form, remains on ballot

With a 3-0 vote, the State Election Board allowed Lawrence Wheeler to amend his confidential declaration of candidacy request form to remain a candidate for associate district judge in Stephens County.

Anthony Sykes, a former state senator and a candidate for the same post, alleged that Wheeler is not a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program, although Wheeler said he accidentally checked a box on his confidential declaration of candidacy request form which indicated he was. Wheeler does have restricted records status. After the board’s vote, Wheeler corrected his form to reflect that and will remain on the ballot without his address listed on the filing form.

Huggans retained on HD42 ballot

A petition to strike Matthew Huggans from the ballot for House District 42 was denied in a 3-0 vote by the State Election Board, keeping Huggans on the ballot.

House District 42 incumbent Cynthia Roe (R-Lindsay) alleged that Huggans was not a resident nor a registered voter within the district prior to Dec. 31, 2021, which is the cutoff date required for candidates running for a House seat in 2022, due to redistricting.

Huggans purchased a new property within HD 42 and had several renovations completed on the property prior to moving in. Roe hired a private investigator, Randy Ramming, to periodically inspect Huggans’ newly purchased property. Ramming testified that renovations were being constructed on Huggans’ property past the Dec. 31, 2021, deadline. Ramming said Huggans was not living at the property at that time.

Huggans testified that he changed his voter registration to meet redistricting guidelines prior to the Dec. 31, 2021, deadline, and moved into his new house “in the middle of February” after several renovations were completed.

Mai survives contest hearing similar to 2018

A petition to strike incumbent Natalie Mai from the ballot for Oklahoma County District Judge in Office 5 of Judicial District 7 was denied by a unanimous 3-0 by the State Election Board.

Candidate Beau Phillips, who represented himself, alleged in his petition that Mai was not an actual resident of Oklahoma County six months prior to the filing period and therefore is ineligible to run for reelection to her post. Phillips argued that Mai owns a Cleveland County home.

Lexie Norwood, who represented Mai, said Mai’s candidacy was contested for the same reason in 2018, when the State Election Board voted unanimously to deny the petition. Mai purchased the Cleveland County home for her mother. Mai lives in a condo in Oklahoma County, Norwood said.

As in 2018, the petition to strike Mai from the ballot was denied unanimously.

Bollinger contest fails, Horn stays on U.S. Senate ballot

Jason Bollinger’s filed petition to remove fellow U.S. Senate candidate Madison Horn from their ballot was denied in a 3-0 vote by the State Election Board, keeping Horn on the ballot.

Aimee Majoue, Bollinger’s attorney, argued in her opening statement that Horn is not qualified to run for U.S. Senate because Horn’s declaration of candidacy form is incomplete and contains false information, she is not registered to vote in Oklahoma, nor has she been registered as a Democrat in Oklahoma for the last six months. Horn scratched out her voter ID number on her candidacy filing.

When completing her declaration of candidacy, Horn — the only witness in the hearing — testified that she was told there were issues with the voter ID number, and so she marked it out at the request of State Election Board officials. Horn also testified that she was told she did not need to give her voter registration number on her filing to run for U.S. Senate.

Horn testified Tuesday morning that she completed her voter registration application on April 12 before completing her declaration of candidacy on April 14.

“Mr. Bollinger is just asking this board to just make up a requirement that a candidate for federal office has to be registered to vote for a given period of time as a Democrat, and that’s just not that law,” Brian Ted Jones, Horn’s attorney, said during closing arguments.

Tuesday morning, Horn issued a press release on her candidate contest, calling Bollinger’s petition a “disingenuous stunt”:

Today, I went before the election board in response to my opponent’s unfounded and reckless attempts to disqualify my candidacy. In several past conversations with my opponent we spoke about the importance of bringing unity and honesty back to the political arena. I am saddened at the lack of integrity he has shown by his recent actions.

On a few occasions we expressed our mutual respect for one another and reinforced the fact that we are allies and should not “throw mud” because Oklahomans deserve to see leaders who are above today’s political games. Then, he broke his word. My opponent filed false allegations in an attempt to defame me and my candidacy, putting into question his oath as an attorney. His actions have shown his true character and point to his insecurities about the viability of his own campaign.

Roberts not allowed to file as ‘The Patriot’

The State Election Board unanimously ordered Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) to amend his declaration of candidacy by removing “The Patriot” from his name. Roberts will remain on the ballot for Oklahoma commissioner of labor.

NonDoc published a story detailing the events of that hearing.

Kerstetter, Nash stricken from HD65, HD85 ballots.

Jennifer Kerstetter failed to appear before the State Election Board for her candidacy challenge and was therefore stricken from the House District 65 ballot.

Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R-Elgin), who filed the petition against Kerstetter, alleged that Kerstetter was not a registered voter in House District 65 for six months prior to the filing period.

Matthew Flies, Hasenbeck’s attorney, said during the morning’s opening procedures that Kerstetter sent him a text message apologizing for a mistake on the candidacy filing and that she would not be present during the hearing. Because Kerstetter was the only person who filed to challenge Hasenbeck, the incumbent representative was functionally reelected Monday.

LaShanya Nash was stricken from the House District 85 ballot by the State Election Board because she is not a resident of the district, which she admitted during the morning’s opening procedures.

House District 85 incumbent Cyndi Munson (D-OKC) filed the petition against Nash.

“I am so sorry that I wasted every person’s time in this room,” Nash said.

Nash did not appear for her contest of candidacy hearing later that day. Republican Donna Rice-Johnson is also challenging Munson, who is the House minority leader-elect.