An attorney for a local Republican candidate said Friday the state party will disenfranchise voting members of the military, after a decision to disqualify his client before the June 3 primary.
Al Agricola, an attorney for State House District 102 candidate Chris McNeil, said the decision by the party’s Candidate Committee to disqualify his client would make absentee votes that could’ve already been cast for his client null and void.
The problem is the state GOP’s decision to disqualify McNeil from the race due to residency comes after his name has already been certified for the ballot. This means that McNeil’s name will appear on all ballots, including absentee ballots that have already been sent to military voters overseas, Agricola said.
“Absentee ballots are already being cast as we speak,” he said. “It could be that votes from members of the military don’t get counted.”
Agricola added that he believes the move violates a January order from United States District Judge Myron Thompson affirming a decision to move up the dates state candidates can qualify for office from April 4 to Feb. 7 to help out military voters.
“Chris was certified as a qualified candidate by the state party,” he said.
Agricola said the party would most likely file paperwork to get permission from Thompson to move forward and expects to respond to that filing, although it’s unclear when that might happen.
The party could’ve waited and contested the election results after the fact, but chose not to do that, Agricola said.
Mobile County Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan brought the challenge based upon where McNeil lives. McNeil’s home and property is located on the dividing line between District 101 and District 102. While his home is in District 101, a portion of McNeil’s property extends into District 102.
“The decision was based on the law,” Lathan said. “He does not live in the district and is simply not eligible to hold this office.”
McNeil has previously argued he owns a business in the District 102 and his daughter goes to school in the district.
“I’m disappointed the party wanted to take away the voters’ right to choose,” McNeil said. “The people want me to run and they shouldn’t take that away from me.”