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Lawsuits Challenge Two Democrats' Right To Appear On Special Election Ballot

Two of the three Democrats running in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks are facing lawsuits challenging their right to appear on the ballot.

The suits allege that Brianna Westbrook and Gene Scharer are ineligible for the Democratic primary because many of their qualifying signatures are invalid.

The lawsuits were filed by Lynda Vescio, a supporter of the other Democrat in the race, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni. None of the 12 Republican candidates' signatures were challenged by Thursday's deadline.

Ballots have already been mailed to overseas military voters, making a successful court challenge problematic. The primary election is Feb. 27, followed by an April 24 general election.

Franks resigned from his seat in the heavily Republican district last month, amid sexual harassment allegations.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.