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Some W.Va. voters cast ballots in wrong races in May primary

September 26, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Voters in the Huntfield, Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing housing developments in Jefferson County were allowed to vote in the wrong state House of Delegates races in the May 9 primary election, and state and local election officials are working to correct the situation before the Nov. 7 general election, officials said Monday.

It is believed the problem existed before 2004, Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan said in a statement.

The mix-up would not have affected any House of Delegates races in Jefferson County in the primary election because the candidates all ran unopposed, said Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson.

Tabb learned of the situation recently. Tabb said he also thinks it did not affect any outcomes in 2004 elections.

Tabb said the issue came to light Friday when a resident in the Huntfield development in Charles Town was talking to Del. Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson, about an issue.

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Wysong told the resident that she needed to talk to Tabb about the issue because Huntfield is in the 56th District, which Tabb represents.

According to Tabb, the woman said the reason she called Wysong, who represents the 58th District, is because Wysong's name was on her ballot in the primary election.

Tabb said he believes Huntfield residents were allowed to cast ballots in the 58th District race, when they should have cast ballots in the 56th District race. It happened because voters were assigned to the wrong precinct.

In the Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing subdivisions in Ranson, W.Va., voters were allowed to cast ballots in the 58th District race when they should have been allowed to vote in the 57th District race, which pits Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, against Republican Robert Murto on Nov. 7.

Given the situation, and other alleged problems in the primary election, including that ballots from a Leetown, W.Va., precinct were temporarily lost on election night, Tabb said he is asking for a representative from the state Secretary of State's office to be at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Nov. 7 to oversee the vote counting process to make sure there are no problems.

The Secretary of State's office oversees elections in the state.

"This election is too important to not have it done right," said Tabb, adding that he is scheduled to address the issue with the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday morning. The commission is in charge of certifying results of elections.

Tabb said he also has talked to Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan, who oversees local elections, and told her the problem needs to be corrected immediately.

Maghan would not answer any questions about the issue Monday and instead issued a "fact sheet" about the mix-up.

Maghan said in the fact sheet that the mix-up occurred because of annexations that have shifted county residents into municipal districts. She said the situation will be corrected by moving voters into correct precincts and sending them letters notifying them of changes.

Although preparations for the general election have started, Jefferson County Commission member Rusty Morgan said he thinks there is time to correct the situation, although it will cost money to notify voters of changes.

"We will do whatever we can to help people get through this," Morgan said.

Ben Beakes, chief of staff for the Secretary of State's office, declined to comment until his office learns all the facts about the situation.

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