Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

2 Dead Candidates Win Elections in 2016

Article Placeholder Image
By George Khoury, Esq. on November 14, 2016 2:56 PM

In both Minnesota and California this past week, two cities elected dead candidates to lead them. In Oceanside, CA, Gary Ernst was elected as treasurer, despite having died in September before the election. In Lindstrom, MN, Joe Wishy was also elected and also passed away in September before the election.

In both unfortunate scenarios, the ballot process prevented any changes from being made to remove the deceased candidates from the ballot. While one might think that the candidate with the next highest amount of votes would then win, that's not the case. Since the candidates were running for different positions, and in different states, each situation will play out differently.

Lindstrom's Dead City Council Seat

In the November election, there were six city council candidates in the race, and the top two would have been elected, except for the fact that Joe Wishy won second place. Fortunately for the voters of Lindstrom, there is already a special election planned for February 2017 to fill the seat of a legislature who was disqualified due to residency restrictions. At that time, Lindstrom voters will be asked to vote again for their second city council member.

But before you decry the voters of Lindstrom for not realizing the man they were voting for had died, the media is speculating that many people voted for Wishy to honor him.

Oceanside's Unwatched Coffers

Unfortunately for Gary Ernst's opponent Nadine Scott, Oceanside will not be having another election to give voters a chance to elect a treasurer. Instead, the city council will appoint a new treasurer, and is free to appoint anyone they choose. While Scott's supporters are urging the city council to appoint her, supporters of Ernst are asking the city council to appoint a former conservative treasurer. It is worth noting that Ernst was appointed to an empty treasurer's seat when the then incumbent was elected to another position, then re-elected after running unopposed in the subsequent election.

Pre-Election Candidate Death

Although it is shocking to hear about a dead candidate being elected, on five occasions, dead candidates have been elected to congress! It happened as recently as 2012.

Related Resources:

Find a Lawyer

More Options