PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — There's a big discrepancy in the date that candidates have to file in order to be on the ballot in Portsmouth.
Election officials have a big decision to make Wednesday that could affect leadership in the city. Former Portsmouth City Council member Elizabeth Psimas is hoping she will soon change chairs from sitting as a spectator at council to actually once again sitting in front of the room.
"I wanted to serve again," Psimas said. "I had unfinished business."
But now her run towards becoming a council member is once again up in the air.
"Who did wrong I don't know," Psimas said. "It doesn't really matter at this point. It needs to be fixed."
Psimas, along with a handful of other candidates, planned to file their paperwork with the voter registration according the state's deadline which is Tuesday, June 12. That deadline was agreed upon by the State Board of Elections and the local Electoral Board. The problem is the city charter called for the deadline Tuesday, June 5. This change in the Charter was necessary because the city elections, for the first time, will be in November. The city asked the state for help. The State Board of Elections advised the local registrar to allow petitions with signatures for office until close of business Tuesday June 12.
That advice suddenly changed after the State Attorney General gave the State Board of Elections informal legal advice that the City Charter should control the deadline. The General Assembly clearly erred with wording that the June 5th is the deadline to coincide with the close of polls on that day. The only problem there was no election June 5th for the polls to be open.
As it stands now the June 5th deadline is controlling, however, the City's three-member electoral board will decide the matter today.
"I wasn't late," Psimas said. "I was on time. You can't change the rules after a supposed deadline that nobody knew existed."
"The charter wasn't even mentioned in the election packages that they submitted," added candidate Paul Smith.
Smith is in the same boat. He stopped by the registration office Tuesday to turn his paperwork to run for council, though he knows it could be for nothing.
"I would be pretty disappointed," Smith said. "I think a lot of people would be disappointed as well."
"Clearly I would be very disappointed," Psimas added. "I've planned to run for a year for this office. I'd be very disappointed."
The election board made up of three people will decide Wednesday which deadline the city is going to use.
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