Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson is back on the June 5 primary ballot after a computer glitch threatened his candidacy for most of the day Wednesday.
Johnson, who is running in a four-way Republican primary to challenge current Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, failed to turn his D-1 business disclosure form to the Commissioner of Political Practices by the March 20, 5 p.m. deadline.
According to state law: “the name of a candidate may not be printed on the official ballot for an election if the candidate or treasurer for a candidate fails to file any statement or report as required by this chapter.”
However, lawyer contracted by the commissioner’s office later determined that the D-1 form in question was not specifically required under the statute.
“We had attorney look at the statute regarding certification, and because there was a question as to whether the D-1 fit under that requirement we went ahead and certified the four candidates who were missing the D-1 form,” said Mary Baker, program supervisor for the Commissioner of Political Practices.
Baker had previously sent a letter to McCulloch Tuesday informing the secretary that nine candidates, including Johnson, failed to submit all the necessary paperwork to the commissioner’s office and thus would be ineligible for the primary election ballot.
The Secretary of State’s Office then removed Johnson and eight other candidates from the ballot.
Johnson maintained all along that he attempted to file the D-1 form through the CPP’s online system and that he thought he had done so successfully. It wasn’t until he was contacted by a reporter Wednesday that he realized the CPP office never received the form.
According to Johnson, an investigation by Commissioner of Political Practices Jim Murry and CPP investigator Julie Steab later confirmed that Johnson’s computer and Internet browser appeared to be incompatible with the online software used by the commissioner’s office.
“We walked through the process that I went through yesterday when I thought I had successfully filed the form,” Johnson said. “Sure enough, the submit button at the bottom of the form flashes, there was no error message and no reason to believe it didn’t go through properly.”
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Linda McCulloch confirmed that the commissioner’s office sent a second letter after business hours Wednesday retracting the names of four candidates who had not filed the D-1 form.
Johnson, who spent much of Wednesday wondering whether his candidacy was in jeopardy, praised Murry and the staff in the commissioner’s office for working to correct the snafu.
“The commissioner went out of his way to meet with me and then they were out at my house the same day and they were here working through the actual process I engaged in yesterday,” Johnson said. “The commissioner made a very real good-faith effort to resolve this in an expedited matter.”
Johnson said the incident highlights the fact that the commissioner’s office is in need of additional funding and resources and tools to improve the online filing system.
“I’m not talking about commissioner or his staff’s performance. They were great today and went out of their way to expedite this,” Johnson said. “The Legislature needs to assign a much higher priority for staffing and funding for that office.”