Berry says mistake may keep her off ballot

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2023

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Trudy BerryDemocratic nominee for the 9th State Senate Trudy Berry says a mistake out of her control may be the end of her campaign.

Berry, a citizen of Lunenburg County who is challenging incumbent Sen. Frank Ruff said she performed her candidate duties by filing all the required paperwork on time, and the Department of Elections accepted them all. However, she says, her nominating committee did not properly perform their duty to ensure that the Department of Elections received Form 527.

According to Berry, she has been denied ballot qualification because the Department of Elections has not received a document that officially certifies her status as her party’s nominee after her local nominating committee accidentally sent it to the wrong email address.

“I called the department and verified that they received all of my forms, but not the 527,” Berry said, referring to the Party Certification of Primary Candidates form. “I also verified with my registrar that she received my Statement of Organization. All of the paperwork I was required to submit was received and in order,” she said.

In addition, according to an email shared with The Gazette, Berry received an email from Patricia Harper-Tunley, the chair of the Lunenburg County Democrats. On April 3, Harper-Tunley wrote that her signatures had been certified and the certification notice would be submitted as required.

“From April 3 to July 13, everyone thought everything was in order and my name would be on the ballot,” Berry said. “When Patricia looked for the receipt of submission of the 527 form, she noticed that the email address was incomplete,” Berry said. “This is why the Department of Elections had not received the 527.”

In an interview on Monday, July 17, Berry said she is in a “wait and see mode” to see if the “error will be excused and they will allow my name to be placed on the ballot.”

Additionally, Berry said her request for a copy of the email that was sent to submit Form 527 to the Department of Elections has gone unanswered.

“That email is the key factor that will play in the Board of Election’s decision to put my name on the ballot,” she said. “Did they, or did they not, attempt to submit Form 527? I have heard nothing more from Patricia Harper-Tunley and nothing from DPVA Political Director Jack Foley and Executive Director Shyam Raman.”

The Gazette reached out to Harper-Tunley to request a copy of the email but was told, “The State Board of Elections (SBE) has been made aware of the issue. I do not have any additional information to provide at this time.” Harper-Tunley said.

In addition, Harper-Tunley said the email in question has been submitted to SBE and it can be requested from that agency.

Berry said the whole issue came to light after the official candidate list was published on the Department of Election’s website.

Since Berry has heard nothing from her nominating committee Chair or Co-Chair, she submitted a letter to the Department of Elections on July 15 asking “that you allow my name to be placed on the ballot due to this error that was beyond my control and clearly the responsibility of my nominating committee Chair and Co-Chair.”

In 2021, the Board of Elections allowed Delegate Dave LaRock (R) to appear on the ballot after local party officials missed a filing deadline to formally nominate him for office.

Berry is now asking for the same.