State, local officials discuss candidate shortage in constable election

Published 3:37 pm Monday, February 19, 2018

After all of the candidates turned in their qualifications paperwork last week, there is still one race on the county ballot without enough candidates to fill the available positions.

Each of the county’s eight districts elects two constables to serve their community. Constables are elected law enforcement officers who serve their local communities and have the same authority of arrest under state law as do sheriff’s deputies and police officers.

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While each district has two constable positions, in the county’s 8th District, only one candidate picked up and returned a petition to qualify as a candidate for the election — Dave Ryan. The 8th District includes the Harold McCormick and High School precincts.

With a shortage of candidates on the ballot, local and state election officials say there are a couple of ways the position can be filled.

One of those ways is for the office to appear on the November ballot, which will feature state and federal elections as well as local municipal elections.

“Independent candidates may be issued nominating petitions, and the political parties may choose to nominate candidates by caucus,” said Adam Ghassemi, Director of Communications for the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Both independent candidates and any candidate nominated by a political party would have to qualify no later than noon Sept. 12, 2018.”

Those nominating forms would become available following the August 2 General Election. According to Ghassemi, a vacancy in the office would not exist until Sept. 1 when those elected in August take office.

Another possibility to fill the other constable slot for the 8th District would be through a candidate launching a write-in campaign according to Ghassemi and Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris.

Harris said those wishing to run a write-in campaign have until noon on March 12 to certify their campaign for the county’s May 1 Primary Election.

“They just need to come in the office and fill out a certificate for write-in,” Harris said. In order for a write-in vote to count, the candidate must be certified for a write-in candidacy 50 days prior to the election.

Those running a write-in candidacy must still meet the requirements of the office defined in state law, but they do not have to gather signatures on a petition to qualify.

According to the Tennessee Division of Elections, “a write-in candidate is a person whose name does not appear on the ballot, but who wishes to be elected or nominated to an office.”

A candidate could also choose to run a write-in campaign for the August General Election. Potential candidates for the August election would have to complete their certification by noon on June 13 to qualify.

To vote for a write-in candidate, when voters are at the polls they will have to select the “Write-In” button on the ballot for the office which they wish to vote for a write-in candidate. The screen will then change to allow the voter to type in the name of the candidate for whom they are casting their vote.