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Berkeley County reviews election rules

October 02, 2000|By BOB PARTLOW

Berkeley County reviews election rules



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - More training, oversight and clearer election rules will be in effect for the Nov. 7 general election here as Berkeley County officials try to avoid problems that plagued the May 9 primary election.

The County Commissioners Monday made a number of technical changes to procedures in handling the ballots, trying to ensure better tracking, storage and record keeping of the ballots.

David Camilletti, who apparently lost a close election for circuit judge in May, has gone to court alleging sloppy handling of the ballots cast doubt over the election. The state Supreme Court is weighing whether to hear the case on appeal. The ballots from that election have been counted five times.

No one has alleged any fraudulent or illegal activity, but all concerned agreed problems were raised that needed to be corrected.

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"There is confusion in the law" governing handling of the ballots," said Commissioner Robert Burkhart. He said the actions taken by the commissioners Monday "were mostly little refinements that need to be done. I think we do a better job than most counties."

Jerry Mays, chairman of the county Republican Executive Committee, said the laws and confusion over procedures by poll workers and others contributed to the problem.

His Democrat counterpart Erica Epperson said training is the key to fixing the problem.

"It was errors that were made, people not having knowledge," she said. "I think the poll worker training is the key to most of it."

A number of changes have made since the election.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> A supervisory team of eight people representing both parties will act as troubleshooters on election day. They will be dispatched to polling places where questions have been raised or potential problems might be budding, said Clerk John Small, whose office oversees elections.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Polls workers' pay has been raised from $75 to $115 a day and training from $20-$25 to encourage more poll workers to take part.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> The amount of time for training for poll workers will be increased from 45 to 90 minutes.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Poll workers will be provided cell phones on which they can make calls if they have questions.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Voters will be reminded by signs at the polling places to have their ballots signed by two poll workers, a key issue in the challenge to the May 9 election.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Poll workers will keep better track of any out-of-the-ordinary events that occur at the polling place.

Even with the changes, Commissioner John Wright said, some problems are bound to arise.

"There's no such thing as a perfect day at the polls," he said.

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