Former state senator Nathaniel Oaks officially withdrew his voter registration Monday afternoon, according to H. Mark Stichel, who represents the plaintiffs who were seeking to remove his name from the primary election ballot.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Glenn L. Klavans previously denied a motion for injunctive relief in the voters’ lawsuit because Oaks, a Baltimore Democrat who pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud charges in federal court last month, would not yet be a disqualified candidate as of the June 26 primary date. Oaks is scheduled to be sentenced in July.
Under the state constitution and election law, a candidate is ineligible for office if they are not a registered voter and a registered voter cannot be serving a prison sentence for a felony.
Oaks’ withdrawal, which makes him ineligible for office, was processed by the Baltimore City Board of Elections. Stichel praised Oaks’ cooperation in dealing with the matter in a quick manner.
Stichel said he plans to file an amended complaint and motion to reconsider in the case Tuesday morning.
Attorneys for the voters spent the weekend reaching out to Oaks through his criminal defense counsel and Oaks agreed to take steps to withdraw his voter registration, Stichel said Monday.
The Maryland State Board of Elections argued that Maryland law, which sets the deadline for a candidate to withdraw at two days after the filing deadline, does not allow the board to remove Oaks’ name. The deadline this year was March 1.
Stichel has said the deadline was arbitrarily early and in this case, with Oaks explicitly stating he has ceased campaigning and will not accept a nomination, could lead to confusion at the polls if his name appears on the ballot. Stichel has said the situation potentially deprives voters of their constitutional rights.
Klavans announced his ruling from the bench Friday and said the potential harm to voters would outweigh the “uncomfortable but adequate timing” for the board to comply with an order to remove his name from ballots. However, he called Oaks’ disqualification “legally speculative” as of Friday afternoon.
Stichel, a partner at Astrachan Gunst Thomas PC in Baltimore, said Klavans’ comments indicate he agrees with the constitutional argument made by the plaintiffs and might rule differently if Oaks is actually disqualified.
The case is Nancy Lewin et al. v. Linda H. Lamone, 02C18001013.