Independent Essex Co. clerk candidate secures ballot line

ELIZABETHTOWN — Independent Essex County clerk candidate Kari Ratliff will be on the ballot this November despite two separate objections to her petitions.

A general objection was filed by Chelsea Merrihew, a title searcher in the county clerk’s office, against Ratliff’s independent Honesty party petitions last month. But specific objections weren’t submitted to the county Board of Elections by the deadline Friday.

That means her independent petitions stand, according to Democratic Election Commissioner Sue Montgomery-Corey. Ratliff’s name will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 5 general election.

Ratliff is running against incumbent Clerk Joseph Provoncha, a Republican who has served in that role since 1996.

“As is common during the petition process, I filed general objections to Ms. Ratliff’s independent petitions,” Merrihew said in a statement. “I did this in order to preserve my right to review them and ensure election laws were adhered to during their collection. That being said, we are now looking forward to November and welcome the opportunity to bring Mr. Provoncha’s record of accomplishment and public service directly to the voters of Essex County.”

Ratliff, a motor vehicle supervisor at the Essex County Department of Motor Vehicles, previously filed petitions to run as a candidate on the Republican line, but Merrihew submitted successful challenges in April against 68 signatures on her petitions — knocking Ratliff’s signature count to nine signatures shy of the minimum 375 to forge a Republican primary challenge.

Petition objections are a common election year occurrence. Signatures can be invalidated based on a number of factors. Among the more common are listed addresses or party affiliations that are incorrect, or signatures from people who aren’t registered to vote in the county.

Ratliff said she filed 103 pages of petitions with a total of 879 signatures May 28, the deadline to file those forms. An independent county clerk candidate must file at least 695 signatures to gain ballot access.

“We were determined to get enough signatures to ensure that a challenge of my petitions would be unsuccessful and that the voters are guaranteed a choice in November,” Ratliff said in a statement. “I thank everyone who signed and circulated my petitions. I am humbled by the amount of support I have been receiving.”


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