Republican congressional candidate Jonathan Paton is accusing one of his opponents of petition circulator fraud and submitting invalid signatures in his nominating petition in an attempt to get his challenger kicked off the ballot.
A complaint filed yesterday by Paton claims that all 1,099 signatures Gaither Martin submitted to qualify for the ballot in the 1st Congressional District are invalid because Martin failed to list his actual residence in the petition’s header. Additionally, it claims that 200 are invalid because circulators were not present when the petitions were signed.
“Martin personally executed at least six false circulator affidavits,” Paton alleged in his legal challenge.
According to the complaint, which was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, the address listed on the petitions does not match the address Martin has listed for his voter registration, rendering all the signatures invalid. But in addition, 386 signatures are invalid because the individuals are not registered to vote in the district, do not live in the district, or are not registered Republicans.
Paton also claims that although affidavits were signed verifying that a circulator was present when the petitions were signed, in several cases petitions were left unmanned at businesses for passers-by to sign, rendering another 195 signatures invalid. The challenge does not say how Paton got that information.
The third Republican in the race is not impressed by the challenge.
Jon Altmann, a spokesman for CD1 candidate Doug Wade, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, said that Wade isn’t supportive of Paton’s actions.
“We think it’s bush league for the Paton campaign to try that,” Altmann said. “We don’t support trying to knock anyone off the ballot. There’s plenty of room for the voters to choose.”
Neither the Paton nor Martin campaigns could be reached for comment.