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More blame assessed in vote counting delays

November 10, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The county's top elections official told the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday that the long delays in getting ballots tabulated from Tuesday's general election were due mostly to an inexperienced worker who was sent to the county to help run the equipment.

ES&S, the company that provided the county's new voting equipment, sent a representative to Jefferson County on Tuesday to help run the tabulating equipment, but the person had little experience working in elections, Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan said.

County Commission member Rusty Morgan said previously that the ES&S representative called people from his company about 20 times to get help on election night.

While officials in Berkeley and Morgan counties were able to finish their tabulating well before midnight, it took Jefferson County officials until 5 a.m. to complete their work.

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"We can't do this again," Morgan said Thursday.

Despite Maghan's comments that the problem was mostly due to poor assistance, Morgan said it seems the county's new ballot counting machine should be operating better.

Morgan, who observed Tuesday's vote tabulations along with other commission members, said it appears the machine should have been able to process more ballots at one time than it was Tuesday.

Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, said he thinks there were more problems Tuesday with Huntfield residents voting in the wrong precincts.

In the May 9 primary election, voters in the Huntfield, Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing housing developments in Jefferson County were allowed to vote in the wrong state House of Delegate races.

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

In the Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing subdivisions in Ranson, voters in the May primary were allowed to cast ballots in the 58th delegate district race when they should have been allowed to vote in the 57th house of delegates race.

Voting officials said the problem was corrected and that affected voters would be notified of the proper precinct in which to vote.

In May, Huntfield residents voted in precinct two, which is Wright Denny Elementary School, but on Tuesday Huntfield residents were to vote in precinct 22, which is South Jefferson Elementary School along Summit Point Road.

Tabb said Wednesday that he has been told that some Huntfield residents were referred back to Wright Denny Elementary to vote Tuesday, although he did not know how many.

Tabb said he is going to request that the Secretary of State's Office investigate the election and examine voting records to determine if anyone voted in the wrong precincts.

Maghan said if any Huntfield residents voted in the wrong precincts, it could be determined when the county commission begins a canvassing of ballots at 10 a.m. Monday.

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