About 10 to 20 Republican candidates for elected offices at the county level have been disqualified from appearing on the ballot in 2024.
The deadline to become a certified candidate to appear on the ballot in 2024 in Alabama was Thursday. It seems a state ethics law requirement that candidates submit a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) form to the Alabama Ethics Commission five days after qualifying to run tripped up some disqualified candidates.
Mike Matthews, an incumbent member of the Jackson County Board of Education for District 1, said he qualified to run again on October 16 but was later notified by the Alabama Ethics Commission he wouldn't be on the ballot in 2024 due to allegedly not submitting the SEI form on time.
Matthews said an ethics commission employee initially told him after qualifying that he'd submitted the form needed to be a certified candidate but then called him back later saying she'd possibly deleted it accidentally. Matthews said he resubmitted the SEI form at her request but was still told a couple of weeks later by the ethics commission through the Jackson County Republican Party Chair that he wouldn't be allowed on the ballot.
"It's just a shame. I don't understand this. It's just a shame that, from a technicality that I'm going to be left off this ballot. As far as Jackson County goes, we have really done some great things here (at) the Jackson County Board of Education. We've come a long ways and I just want to be a part of what we've got going on from here on out," Matthews told 1819 News last week.
Matthews said Democratic candidates aren't being disqualified from the ballot for not submitting their SEI forms within five days like some Republicans.
"There's Democrats in the state of Alabama as of today that failed to file their Statement of Economic Interests on time," Matthews said. "For us, we're wanting to know why the Secretary of State or the Alabama Ethics Commission, why they're allowing these Democrats to run or be on the ballot when they're in the same boat as me and (Jackson County Commission candidate) Mike Sisk or if there is any other Republicans in the state of Alabama that have been left off the ballot because they were a day late or they were two days late. We do know now that there are multiple Democrats in the state of Alabama that are on the ballot, that have failed to do the exact same thing we have. So, that's where we are today. We know that. That's our stance as far as the Republican Party. I'm just wanting answers. The school board, it don't pay a lot of money. We're trying to make a difference in every kid's life."
Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said, "The Alabama Republican Party takes this situation very seriously and we are looking into what happened. We've received the complaint from Mr. Matthews as well as some other candidates and if indeed only Republicans were forced to follow this rule we're incredibly concerned about that and we are looking for answers."
"We have sent a letter to the ethics committee asking for equal treatment under the law for Republican and Democratic candidates. We are not aware of the full extent of this problem, but we are trying to get answers," he added.
Jackson County Republican Party chairman A.J. Buckner told 1819 News last week, "One is an incumbent. One has held office before."
"The local party has no problem with any one of these candidates being on the ballot. We have been tirelessly searching for a way to make this happen. I understand there's deadlines, there's rules, there's regulations. We've asked for, you know, what are our corrective actions? What can we do different? We've just not received anything other than, 'They've missed the deadline and that's it.' In fairness to everybody involved, they've been very nice in the conversations, they've returned phone calls. It's just we've just not made any headway," Buckner said.
Sisk, another candidate disqualified from the ballot in 2024, said the whole process has "just been a runaround."
"I don't agree with it all. Let the people decide, not an individual. I don't feel like me and Mike are the only ones who are having issues from what I've been told. There are several other things that are going on in this county and I think a lot of it is looking like we're on the opposite party so I'm just going to state it that way," Sisk said.
A spokesperson for Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen referred questions to the Alabama Ethics Commission. The Alabama Ethics Commission didn't return a request for comment on Friday.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.