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Clerk calls for state audit of general election

January 05, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County's top elections official told the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday that she has asked for a "procedural audit" to determine if any Jefferson County voters cast ballots in the wrong precinct in the November general election.

Some people have raised concerns about how the election was conducted, and Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan said she has asked that the Secretary of State's office conduct the audit to review election procedures.

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

"I don't want any speculation in our county that the election was not honest," Maghan told the commission.

Maghan said some voters might have voted in the wrong precincts, but she did not want to go into detail because she said that would be premature.

If there is a problem, it could be attributed to old precinct maps dating back about 20 years, Maghan said. Maps during that period are not as accurate as they are now, Maghan said.

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Jefferson County has been plagued by problems in recent elections and during the May 9 primary election last year, 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 delegate district race when they should have cast ballots in the 56th delegate district race. It happened because voters were assigned to the wrong precinct, officials said.

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

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

Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, said he was told after the November general election that some Huntfield residents were directed again to the wrong precinct.

At the time, Maghan said she did not know if any Huntfield residents voted in the wrong precincts. On Thursday, Maghan said she did not believe any Huntfield residents voted in the wrong precinct.

Ben Beakes, chief of staff for Secretary of State Betty Ireland, confirmed Thursday afternoon that Maghan has asked that a procedural audit be conducted on the November election.

The audit will try to determine if something can be implemented to help future elections run smooth, Beakes said.

"That's about all the detail I can give you at this point," Beakes said.

Maghan said the county will rely on GIS technology to determine if precinct maps are accurate. Maghan said the audit could start later this month and the GIS work will take about a week.

GIS, which stands for geographic information system, is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographically-referenced information.

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