Primary recount for judge continues

May 17, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An unproductive session of ballot-checking on Wednesday has forced the Berkeley County Commission to meet again Friday to certify election results.

As a result, uncertainty over the outcome of a tight race for Circuit Court judge will continue into next week.

David Camilletti trails Gray Silver III by 31 votes for the Democratic nomination, and therefore the position, because there is no Republican opposition in the fall.

Camilletti has not conceded and said another ballot count could "change the tide of the election."

The 23rd Circuit covers Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. The new judge will be the circuit's fourth.

Silver has 3,838 votes and Camilletti has 3,807. Patrick Henry is third with 2,195.

On Wednesday, Camilletti asked for a recount of ballots in Morgan County.

Camilletti declined to ask for another count of ballots in Jefferson County, which he won handily in last Tuesday's primary.

He said he is likely to ask for a recount in Berkeley County, but won't be sure until initial results there are final.


The Berkeley County Commission met as a board of canvassers Wednesday, but failed to complete its task. The commissioners are required to count Republican and Democratic totals in two of the 46 precincts by hand to check the results against the computerized count from primary night.

After six hours of counting and a few stumbles, the commissioners stopped for the day, having verified only the Republican side in the 16th precinct, where polling occurred at Martinsburg North Middle School.

Commission President D. Wayne Dunham said there were "some problems" with the Democratic count - in particular, the two handwritten tallies didn't match.

On Friday, the commissioners will resume with the Democratic vote in the 16th precinct, and try to recheck the Republican and Democratic numbers in the 38th district, where voting was at Tuscarora Elementary School.

The deadline for Camilletti to ask for a recount had been Wednesday in all three Eastern Panhandle counties. But because of the delay in Berkeley County, the County Commission will meet again Friday. If the commission finishes a recheck of the two precincts then, Camilletti will have until Tuesday to ask for a recount there.

Camilletti will be charged $300 per recount, plus actual costs. There will be no charge if he pulls ahead after the recount.

The costs Camilletti may face in Berkeley County have not been determined. County Clerk John Small said it cost about $37,000 to hold the primary. Of that, almost $7,000 went toward the rental of a computerized ballot counter, he said.

Camilletti said it was an obvious decision to ask for a recount in Morgan County, where paper ballots are used. "Paper ballots are susceptible to human error," he said.

Silver garnered 502 votes in Morgan County to Camilletti's 466. Silver also won Berkeley County.

For much of Wednesday, Silver sat near the Berkeley commissioners and kept his own running tally. He marked each vote on a yellow legal pad. A state law book was open to a section on elections.

Camilletti visited all three Panhandle counties to attend to election matters, starting in Morgan and ending in Berkeley.

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