State to probe Berkeley County election

February 27, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A state investigator is probing allegations of irregularities in the November general election in Berkeley County, including the possibility that ballot books had been tempered with, the Berkeley County Commissioners said Thursday.

The name of Perry Smith, a write-in candidate for Berkeley County Sheriff, was written on some ballot books that voters used to select candidates while in the voting booths, said Commissioner Wayne Dunham.

Smith's name did not appear on the list of candidates because he was a write-in candidate, Dunham said. Voters who wanted to vote for Smith had to write Smith's name on an envelope into which voters slipped their ballots after voting, officials said.


"It didn't alter the election," said Dunham.

But had Smith won, Dunham said he believes the other candidates - Republican Ronald Jones and Democrat William "Shug" Kisner - would have had a strong argument for repeating the election.

Jones won the sheriff's race.

"I would welcome any investigation," Smith said.

Smith said the write-in campaign caused confusion for voters and he suggested a better system is needed for write-in candidates.

After the November general election, the commissioners wrote a letter to the Secretary of State's office outlining the problems with the election, said Commission President Jim Smith.

Smith said Thursday that an investigator with the Secretary of State's office visted him recently and told Smith he would look into the matter.

If the investigator finds anything illegal about the election, he can report it to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely, said County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm.

Smith said the investigator told him that the commissioners should not comment on the issue while he is looking into the matter.

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