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Silver declared winner in W.Va. judge race

August 04, 2000

Silver declared winner in W.Va. judge race



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Ruling there was "absolutely no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation" in the race for the 23rd Circuit judge race last May, the Berkeley County Commissioners declared Gray Silver III the winner of the race.

David Camilletti, the candidate who requested a hearing to contest the race, said he believes the commissioners' decision has "flaws" and he is considering appealing the ruling to Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Camilletti contended there were numerous improprieties in ballots and procedures in virtually every Berkeley County precinct.

Camilletti knocked 16 votes from Silver's lead after the commissioners discarded ballots that were missing poll clerks' signatures.

The hearing also revealed five Democratic ballots that ended up among the Republican ballots. But when the ballots were found, they were blank, said Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart.

In the end, Camilletti still trailed Silver by 23 votes.

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The commissioners worked for four days to review the election results, and tensions rose at times.

"This has been an experience this week. It really has," said Commission President D. Wayne Dunham.

"I think we have worked very hard to be very honest and to do what was right," said Burkhart.

Commissioner John E. Wright said the county's election process is outdated and election nights in the county are like an "absolute carnival." Berkeley County has an automated tabulation system, but many of the election regulations are based on the old hand tabulation system, which complicates the process, Wright said.

Every election has errors, and the commission tries to correct them, Wright said.

"But some are never found," Wright said.

Camilletti said he still disagrees with the commissioners on issues relating to absentee ballots and other points. Camilletti wanted the commissioners to strike absentee ballots that were not signed by two poll clerks.

The commissioners said in their ruling that election law seems to require that absentee ballots be signed by law clerks. But a Supreme Court decision appears to contradict that, the commissioners ruled.

Silver declined to comment after the ruling, which was read aloud to Silver, Camilletti and others in the commissioner's chambers Friday morning by the commissioners' attorney, Norwood Bentley III.

"We're pleased that the process has concluded," said Silver's attorney, Doug Rockwell.

Silver, Camilletti and Patrick Henry ran for the Democratic nomination for a fourth judge's seat in the Eastern Panhandle. The Democratic candidate will take the seat because no Republicans ran.

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