LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County District Judge candidate Karen Faulkner is suing the Board of Elections, arguing that two candidates must move on to November's general election in the wake of Danny Alvarez's sudden death.

Alvarez, who won the primary for 9th Division judge on May 22, died the next day at the age of 43. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Faulkner says since she finished third in the primary, she now has a "right to compete as a candidate in the general election and ensure that the electorate has a choice between two qualified candidates in November," the lawsuit states.

Kentucky law says the top two vote-getting nominees in judicial races moves on to the general election. Faulkner finished 17 votes behind second-place candidate, Tanisha Hickerson. Hickerson and Secretary of State Alison Lundergran Grimes are also named as defendants in the suit.

Grimes' office has said the situation is "unprecedented" but that since Alvarez couldn't be included on the November ballot, Hickerson would be the only remaining candidate by default. However, Faulkner's lawsuit argues state law requires the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes to move on.

"Faulkner’s rights as a candidate will be violated if she is deprived of a certificate of nomination in violation of state law." the lawsuit states. "In addition, the voters of Jefferson County will be deprived of a choice between two qualified candidates as intended by the General Assembly when it enacted the statutes governing primary elections for judicial candidates."

The lawsuit is requesting a Franklin Circuit Court judge issue a restraining order prohibiting the state board of elections from counting the votes that were cast for Alvarez on May 22. 

"Like everyone in this community, I was deeply saddened by the death of my friend and colleague, Danny Alvarez," Faulkner said in a statement. "However, I was also dismayed to learn that shortly after Danny’s tragic passing, the Secretary of State’s Office summarily determined that the State Board of Elections would only certify one candidate to appear on the judicial ballot this fall. This was a close and competitive primary among many qualified candidates, and I believe that state law clearly entitles the voters to have a choice in this fall’s general elections.”

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