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Prosecuting attorney says polling places are 'sacred'

July 22, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying voting polls are practically a "sacred place," Jefferson County's Prosecuting Attorney told county officials Thursday that food should not be delivered to poll workers during elections.

Michael D. Thompson's comments were the latest in an ongoing controversy about Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan's decision to provide lunches to 155 poll workers during a June 25 pension bond election.

Maghan said she paid the $1,952 catering bill with her own money, but wanted to be reimbursed for the meals from the county's voter registration fund.

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Because he is the county's treasurer, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober told the Jefferson County Commissioners recently that he would have been required to sign the check.

But Boober said an official with the state auditor's office told him that the bill could not be paid with money from the voter registration fund.

Boober told the county commission he did not sign the check because of his concern that he could be "party to something possibly illegal."

The county commission is still waiting to hear from the state auditor's office about whether Maghan can be reimbursed for the meals.

Thompson told the county commission Thursday that the Secretary of State's office has a concern about food being delivered to poll workers.

Polling places should only be entered by election workers and voters, Thompson said. Regarding food, poll workers can order out for food, but the food must be left at the door of a polling place, Thompson said.

"It's a very limited number of people who can enter the polling place. It's almost a sacred place," Thompson said.

Thompson said officials with the Secretary of State's office generally are concerned about people providing poll workers with "all kinds of goodies."

Regarding the recent situation in Jefferson County, Thompson said state officials are advising that it not happen again.

Maghan was not at the county commission meeting because she is on vacation.

The lunch-reimbursement issue has generated controversy since Maghan hired Renaissance Refinishing of Frederick, Md., a firm owned by her brother-in-law, B. Randall Maghan, to provide the lunches.

Maghan said she is not involved with the business and makes no profit from it.

She said she obtained two other bids, both from Frederick County caterers - Catoctin Inn in Buckeystown, Md., and Catering by Cozy Restaurant in Thurmont, Md.

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