This Man Can’t Vote in West Virginia, but Lots of People Voted for Him

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The Beaumont Enterprise courtesy of Keith R. Judd / AP

Federal prisoner Keith Russell Judd stands at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas, in this March 15, 2008 file photo.

Keith Judd, a.k.a. Inmate #11593-051 at the federal correctional facility in Beaumont, Tex., is a modern Renaissance man: a Rastafarian-Christian, a former member of something called the “Federation of Super Heroes,” a musician and NRA member who has bowled a “sanctioned” perfect game. His favorite book is Stephen King’s The Stand. His favorite President is Richard Nixon. And on Tuesday night, he notched 41% of the vote in West Virginia’s Democratic presidential primary, carrying eight counties despite being incarcerated more than 1,000 miles away.

Judd is an ostensible crazy person who passes the time in federal prison (he’s serving a 210-month sentence for extortion, and won’t get out until next year) by habitually running for office. Getting on the ballot in West Virginia is quite simple: Judd filed a notarized certificate of announcement and paid a $2,500 filing fee, says Jake Glance, a spokesman for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

Despite being a federal inmate from another state, Judd’s protest candidacy racked up some 70,000 votes, crushing President Obama in the heart of West Virginia’s coal country. The rebuke to Obama by conservative Democrats (West Virginia’s is a closed primary) isn’t entirely surprising — the President was trounced in 2008 by Hillary Clinton — but it is an embarrassment for the President that underscores his weakness in rural Appalachia.

According to reports, Judd — who would not be eligible to vote in West Virginia, as in 16 other states, until he finishes his prison term and is no longer on parole or probation — qualifies for a delegate at this summer’s national Democratic Convention on the strength of his showing. A call to West Virginia’s Democratic Party headquarters was not immediately returned.