The battle over a contested seat on the Berkeley County Commission has gotten almost complicated to follow without a crib sheet. Just when we believed it was settled, a citizen group plans to challenge the election a second time. Their challenge comes too late, we believe and West Virginia's highest court should reject it.
First, some background: In the November 1996 commisssion election, Republican Howard Strauss beat Democrat Robert Burkhart by 157 votes. Burkhart challenged the election, saying that the West Virginia Constitution says two commissioners cannot be "elected from" the same district, and that Commissioner D. Wayne Dunham lived in Strauss's district at the time of the election.
Strauss argued that since Dunham had since moved out of the district, he shouldn't be denied his seat. This high court didn't buy that, and after deliberating more than six months, awarded the seat to Burkhart.
Now comes a citizens' group which says that Republican John Wright, defeated by Strauss in the primary last May, should have a chance to win the seat from Burkhart. Their argument: Citizens have been denied their voting rights because Strauss won the primary illegally, preventing Democrats from casting ballots for Wright in the general election.