Welch certified to run for Frankford council

Frankford has seven candidates running for town council, after all.

The Frankford Board of Elections voted unanimously this week in favor of resident Greg Welch regarding his eligibility to run as a candidate in the Frankford town council election set for Feb. 4. There had been some question of his eligibility, according to Town Clerk Terry Truitt, but Welch sent letters to both the Delaware Attorney General’s office and the Board of Elections concerning the process through which he had been deemed unqualified.

In a letter dated Jan. 15, Welch stated to Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III that the state election commissioner declaring him ineligible, “without the input of anyone else other than our town clerk, is not legal and is misrepresenting the process.”

“The State Election Commissioner excluding me and the Frankford Board of Elections from this process that assesses my eligibility is purposely being employed to illegally deny me and the Town a proper election,” he asserted.

The Frankford Board of Elections met Thursday, Jan. 26, to officially determine Welch’s eligibility and, on the advice of attorney Dennis Schrader – who read an opinion from Deputy Attorney General Ann Woolfolk to support the recommendation – deemed that Welch was, in fact, an eligible candidate.

Truitt had questioned whether Welch was a registered voter and said the town does not have registration for him. Welch refuted that, saying that, if his voter registration was “not in the box, then the box is corrupted.”

According to Woolfolk, even that was a moot point. She said Welch simply needs to be a qualified elector in order to be eligible to run for a council seat, and whether he is registered as a voter or not doesn’t affect his eligibility.

“Although it is not 100 percent consistent, Title 15 does not generally equate ‘qualified electors’ with ‘registered voters,’” she wrote in an opinion sent to Jean Turner, election commissioner for Sussex County, on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 26.

“The statute requires that a candidate have been a ‘qualified elector’ of Frankford for one year prior to the date of the election. Both Mr. Welch and the Town of Frankford equate the terms ‘qualified elector’ with ‘registered voter.’ I do not believe the terms are synonymous.”

She cited as one example Section 2301 of Title 15, where the state code references a “qualified elector who is a resident of the state and ‘is not registered…’”

Woolfolk concluded her opinion by saying a qualified elector is a person “who meets the qualifications to vote… Mr. Welch must have been qualified to register to vote for one year, regardless whether he is registered to vote.”

Welch said he was simply questioning the process. He said he had other questions regarding his registration status and the notification deadline — none of which were on Thursday’s agenda, but some of which could be addressed at a Board of Elections special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, after Coastal Point press time, at which complaints by Welch and fellow candidate Jerry Smith were due to be discussed.

Welch added, “I didn’t want to talk about whether I was an elector or not. It’s the way I was disqualified — there is a process that is supposed to happen.”

After Welch pressed officials about his registration status and the statutes used to determine notification deadlines for town elections, Schrader said, “I think you won about 15 minutes ago.” He then asked the board to take a vote on Welch’s eligibility to run, which they did, unanimously deeming him an eligible candidate for Frankford town council for the Feb. 4 election.

The Frankford Board of Elections will hold another special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, to hear complaints filed with the board regarding the 2012 election. The meeting will be held in the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company meeting room, located on Main Street in Frankford.

The complaints the board is scheduled to hear include Welch’s complaints relating to pre-election-day action or activity and the conduct of the 2012 general election, as well as Smith’s complaints relating to the registration of voters prior to the conduct of the 2012 general election.