Four dropped from Butte primary ballot

The names of four Butte County candidates were dropped from the Republican primary ballot because they had not filled out a party affiliation form.

A 2011 law requires candidates for the Republican and Democrat primaries to declare a party affiliation before their names can appear on the ballots.

The dropped candidates said they were unaware of the requirement.

Butte County Clerk Trilby McAffee said her office did not check the party affiliation form. As a result, the names of the candidates were dropped from the ballot.

The ballots had to be reprinted at a cost of $638.45, said Dave Gipson, CEO of Caxton, the Caldwell printing company that produced the ballots.

The dropped candidates are Charlotte Robertson, who is running to represent District 2 on the County Commission; incumbent Assessor Laurie Gamett, who is running unopposed; Tara Beard Parsons, who was running against fellow newcomer Matt Nelson for coroner; and Joel Andersen, who was running for precinct committeeman.

Robertson and Gamett are both running as write-ins in the general election. Parsons and Andersen have dropped out of the race.

“All we were given when we went in was the petition to run, and I was under the understanding that when I put on there that I was running with the Republican Party … I thought that was all I needed,” Robertson said. “I was not aware of the new law.”

Both Robertson and Gamett said they should have looked into the requirements more closely. But Gamett said the clerk’s office shared some of the blame.

“I think it’s an injustice,” she said. “Some people didn’t know what their job was.”

Robertson called the new requirement “red tape.”

“I think it’s really kind of silly,” she said. “It’s just another little piece of paper that doesn’t say anything that I didn’t say in my declaration of candidacy.”

Starting in 2012, all voters had to affiliate with the Republican Party in order to vote in GOP primary. Voters can affiliate at the polls.

McAffee said her office relied on the candidates’ declaration of candidacy form, in which a candidate affirms Republican Party affiliation.

“Because they signed (the declaration of candidacy) in front of a notary, we took it as an accurate document,” she said. “There’s responsibility on both sides.”

Butte was not the only county in which unaffiliated candidates had to be dropped from the GOP primary ballot. One candidate in Clearwater County and one in Lewis County had their names removed for the same reason, said Tim Hurst, chief deputy in the Secretary of State’s Office.

The state reviewed the requirement in election training sessions with county clerks, as well as sent them reminders, Hurst said.

“We’ve contacted the clerks on what their responsibility was, and apparently three of them didn’t get the message,” he said.

McAffee said she chose not to attend the training session when she learned she had a primary challenger. Instead, she sent Chief Deputy Billee Woodbridge.

Woodbridge should have checked the candidate’s affiliation, McAffee said, but did not consider her failure to do so negligence.

“She’s a great employee,” McAffee said. “She made an error.”