Challenge filed to remove Granados from ballotAugust 14, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
A challenge has been filed to remove Mikayla Granados’ name from the General Election ballot.
Mark Messmer, chairman of the Dubois County Republican Party, filed the challenge Monday evening in Dubois Superior Court. The challenge is based on a felony conviction Granados currently has on her record.
“She should have withdrawn herself,” Messmer said Thursday afternoon. “Once she was made aware that as a felon she was not eligible, she had the duty to remove herself. And she won’t.”
A hearing has been set for 8 a.m. Thursday.
Granados is running to fill one of the three Dubois County Council seats on this year’s ballot. She is aware of the challenge. She said she couldn’t
comment until she speaks to counsel.
Dubois County Democratic Party Chairman Mike Kendall said their lawyers are looking at the filing so that they can discuss how to proceed.
“We are going to defend her,” he said Thursday. “We are going to contest the constitutionality of the law in its language.”
In May 2019, Granados pled guilty to a Level 6 felony of possession of a narcotic drug and maintaining a common nuisance, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.
Indiana law says a person who has a felony does not qualify to run for office.
“It’s the law,” Messmer said. “She should have never filed.”
However, there is no process in place for checking a person’s candidacy when a person files.
“The law is arguably unconstitutional,” Kendall said. “First, it doesn’t further rehabilitation; it furthers punishment. And that is against the Indiana Constitution. Second, to enforce a law like this and for it to be upheld, it has to be uniformly and consistently enforced.” Whether that is done or not done is part of the argument, he explained.
On Aug. 27, Granados will be able to petition the court to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor because she will have completed the probation sentence, Kendall said.
“I think they have decided to file before the 27th,” he said, “because otherwise they would be filing to get rid of a candidate who had a felony that was reduced to a misdemeanor. They probably think the political optics are better this way.”
The law states that in order for a candidate to be considered for being removed from the ballot at this point in the election process, someone running for the same seat or a party chairman, must file a challenge with the courts.
Messmer listed the reasons he filed the challenge in a press release he sent out Thursday morning. He wrote:
• “Upon knowledge of her ineligibility to run for office under Indiana law, Ms. Granados had the obligation under Indiana law to immediately remove herself from the ballot as a result of her felony convictions. Ms. Granados has failed to meet her obligation by voluntarily removing herself from the ballot.”
• “We believe that, under Indiana law, Ms. Granados is not an eligible candidate for Dubois County Council and cannot be elected to the office of Dubois County Council in this election. If Ms. Granados would win the election as an ineligible candidate, the County would face significant uncertainty and expense.”
• “Ms. Granados has had ample time to comply with her legal obligation to remove herself from the ballot. The Clerk’s office needs a decision by August 24th to ensure there is enough time to get the ballot approved and printing complete prior to mailing out absentee ballots in September. The Judge must rule on this filing within 10 days. August 10 was the last filing day to ensure that the absentee ballots are printed correctly and to eliminate the chance that the County incurs additional costs to change the ballot later.”
• “Having an ineligible candidate on the ballot will only result in distraction and confusion in this election cycle. This is an important election for Dubois County — and it should be focused on the genuine issues and opportunities for our County and those candidates who are eligible to serve on the Dubois County Council.”
Messmer indicated previously that he would likely wait until after the fall election and file the challenge if Granados won. But he changed his plan, he said Thursday.
“If I do it now, it can be a simple ruling by the judge. He can make an eligibility ruling pretty quickly,” Messmer said. “If she wins the election as one of the top three, there is another court process that I could use. If I waited until after the election, the process is more tedious and much more complicated.”
Kendall believes Messmer’s motive for filing now is purely political.
“I think they that when they said they would wait until after the election to do it, they were figuring that they had a really good chance to beat her, and beat all of [the Democratic council candidates]. And I think that’s changed,” Kendall said. “I think they believe if they do this now, then they can avoid trying to remove her if she wins. That would put them in the position, after the election, of moving to disqualify a candidate that the people chose to elect.”
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