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Election Commission removes congressional, legislative candidates from primary ballot, leaving more unchallenged

The list of candidates in Indiana’s May 3 party primaries grew shorter — and the list of unchallenged incumbents grew longer — as the Indiana Election Commission reviewed more than 20 challenges to ballot qualifications during a long and at times noisy meeting Friday.

The meeting, which continued for nearly seven hours through the afternoon and evening, was interrupted at times by shouts from the crowd as candidates were removed from the ballot for reasons ranging from a lack of qualifying signatures to challenges to their history of voting in party primaries.

Among the candidates removed from the ballot were three in the U.S. Senate party primaries — two Democrats and one Republican, leaving incumbent Republican Todd Young and the Democratic mayor of Hammond, Thomas McDermott, unchallenged for nomination.

Others removed included four primary challengers to incumbent House members, a change which means the list of legislative incumbents who remain unchallenged in either the primary or general elections grew from 49 to 53 — nearly half of the 109 seats in which incumbents legislators are seeking reelection. Party officials will have the option of filling ballot vacancies for those and other offices after the primary.

The commission also turned down challenges to the ballot status of Senate candidate McDermott from a Democratic primary opponent who had been removed from the ballot herself, to U.S. Rep. Jim Banks based upon his congressional vote on Jan. 6, 2021, to overturn President Biden’s win in the Electoral College, and to state Rep. Jeff Ellington on grounds that he had not been residing in the district to which he said he had moved to challenge another Republican incumbent, Bruce Borders, in the primary.

In voting to deny the “insurrection challenge” to Banks, Republican commission chairman Paul Okeson called the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol a “regrettable mark in history” but said he saw no grounds for finding that Banks had taken part in an insurrection.– The Indiana Citizen