1) Georgia's restrictive ballot-access laws scuttled her campaign
It's more difficult here for a third-party candidate to get on the ballot than almost anywhere else in the country. As an independent, Norwood needed to come up with a ridiculously large number of petition signatures.
That said, those hurdles had nada to do with her failure to qualify as a candidate. They are two completely separate procedures. Every candidate — even write-in candidates — is required to qualify to run for office.
2) Commission Chairman John Eaves kept her off the ballot
Eaves apparently had threatened to challenge some of Norwood's petition signatures on what seem like picayune technical grounds, a move that made him look small and desperate. However, Eaves did not make Norwood miss the qualifying deadline.
3) The county's qualifying rules are impenetrable
Wrong. There may be plenty of hard-to-find or difficult-to-decipher documents on the Fulton site — and, indeed, most government sites — but the qualifying rules aren't among them. I found an explanatory PDF in about 10 seconds, after Googling "fulton county" and "qualifying."
And as instructions go, these couldn't be much clearer:
4) The county elections board zapped Norwood on a technicality
Yeah, like midnight, April 15, is a technicality with the IRS. It's called a deadline and if you miss it, you're not a candidate. It's not even as if it's a tight window. Norwood — and everyone else — had a four-and-a-half-day period in which to submit her qualifying forms. Frankly, cutting it as close as she thought she was — with less than half-an-hour to go before 5 p.m. — was courting disaster in itself. If she'd come in late because she'd gotten stuck in the traffic we all must deal with, would she still have asked the county to cut her slack? (My guess is yes.)
You don't hear much about qualifying because it's such a perfunctory, no-brainer process that there's no excuse for any serious candidate to screw it up. The last guy I can remember who simply failed to qualify was Ralph David Abernathy III, the smugly entitled son of the late civil-rights leader, who lost his state Senate seat in 1998 because he bounced his qualifying check — then blamed his wife for not putting enough money in their account. (He was indicted later that year and eventually served prison time for filing fraudulent legislative expense vouchers.)
Fulton Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter didn't waste any time in deliberating over Norwood's petition on Tuesday because the rules are so cut and dried, leaving nothing to discuss.
What has seemingly gone unnoticed in all of this discussion over ballot-access laws is that no one forced Norwood to run as an independent in the first place. She'd spent so much effort during the mayoral race clumsily distancing herself from the GOP that she apparently realized — with good reason — that she couldn't run as a Democrat without further alienating her mostly Republican base and couldn't run as a Republican without inviting charges of flip-flopping and political opportunism.
I wouldn't feel the need to spend so much time explaining all of this were it not for Norwood's shameful attempts to disparage election officials in an effort to draw attention away from her own failure to meet the qualifying deadline. First, she questioned the motives of county election board Chairman Roderick Edmond in rejecting her candidacy by pointing out that he's an Eaves appointee. Then, when the full board ruled against her, she claimed on her campaign website, "30,000 Petitions Submitted! Board of Elections Denies Ballot Access," omitting the fact that she forgot to qualify. I hope she doesn't plan to smear Judge Baxter for upholding election law, but at this point little would surprise me.
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