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Candidate suing Peoria after being left off ballot twice

LISTEN: Dr. Ken Krieger

PHOENIX — A candidate who was left off of a suburban Phoenix ballot announced Thursday he is pursuing a lawsuit against the city.

Peoria City Council candidate Ken Krieger’s lawsuit names Maricopa County, the city of Peoria and the county elections department as defendants.

“We’re asking the court to stop this election and have a new one, with Dr. Krieger’s name on the ballot, so that he has a fair shake on the election,” said Kory Langhoffer, one of Krieger’s attorneys.

Langhoffer said that several laws have been broken.

“The state counts relate to the early voting period provided by state law, which has been cut short significantly (because of the mistakes) by the reprinting of the ballots a couple of times,” he said. “A state law that requires the names of candidates on the ballots be randomized so that everyone has a fair chance of being on the top spot, which is the best spot on the ballot.”

Krieger’s name was mistakenly left off the original ballot after a lawsuit challenged his petition signatures. The case was resolved, but Krieger’s name was erroneously not put back on the ballot.

That issue was resolved Wednesday after the Maricopa County Elections Office issued an apology and replacement ballots were mailed out.

“It was my personal error,” Karen Osborne, Maricopa County Elections director, said.

But the problem wasn’t fixed. A replacement ballot with Krieger’s name omitted was mistakenly mailed to Peoria residents.

“The print vendor printed the same ballots with the same error and mailed those to the same people who had received them before,” Osborne said.

As it stands now, Krieger’s name would be on the bottom of the ballot.

Meanwhile, the Peoria City Council voted 3-2 Thursday to recommend that the County Elections Department use a couple of options to correct the ballots.

The first option asks the county send out a candidate-only ballot to all voters in the Mesquite district, where Krieger wants to be on the ballot. It also suggested the county open three remote replacement voting locations for those who want to vote in person instead of by mail.

Krieger said that the idea of a third ballot is unacceptable.

“It was confusing, in the beginning, having a second ballot,” he said. “But now a third ballot? Can you imagine what the voters are going to act like when they get a third ballot in the mail? This is totally unacceptable.”

One of Krieger’s opponents, Bridget Binsbacker, doesn’t think voters would be confused.

“I believe that people are ready to vote,” she said. “We’ve all been out there campaigning, sharing our story and what we’re about, and they’re ready to make a decision.”

Krieger said this debacle is hurting voters.

“Their constitutional rights, their federal rights, are being violated,” Krieger said. “We cannot, by this proposal, make this work properly.”

Another of Krieger’s attorneys, Chase Bales, said they will go ahead with the lawsuit.

“We’ve alleged several (reasons) why the city council’s proposed solution violates state, local, and federal laws,” Bales said. “We will pursue those claims to the fullest extent possible.”

KTAR’s Bob McClay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.