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Charles Town council vote tied after canvass

May 30, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - One city council seat in last week's Charles Town municipal election remained undecided after the canvassing of provisional ballots on Tuesday night appears to have resulted in a tie, Mayor Peggy Smith said.

Four ballots still are in question, however.

Ward IV candidates Lacie Mumaw and Michael Slover each received a total of 253 votes after review of 21 of the 25 provisional ballots, Smith said.

"We have four votes that are being challenged. In fact, we're going to call the secretary of state and get a ruling on them," Smith said.

The canvassing board, composed of five council members, is scheduled to reconvene Thursday at 8 p.m., Smith said.

If all four votes are thrown out, Smith said she was advised that the council would be charged with breaking the tie.

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Matthew Ward, a member of the canvassing board, in a telephone interview on Tuesday night quoted a section of the city's charter, which he said indicates that a tie must be broken by city council through an "equitable mode," not necessarily a special vote of council.

"This is as exciting as politics gets," said Ward before jokingly making an exception for "the hanging chad."

Ward said the canvassing board voted unanimously to accept 10 provisional ballots and unanimously rejected 11 others.

Of the four remaining provisional ballots, three involve questions of town residency and the fourth might have been purged from the voting rolls by mistake, Ward said.

"This proves that every vote counts," Ward said of the tie vote.

Mumaw, the incumbent, had received 250 votes, and Slover received 248 votes in preliminary tallies announced Thursday night.

The preliminary outcome of the other three council races did not change.

Many of the ballots not accepted Tuesday night were cast by residents of Ranson, W.Va., or individuals who were not registered to vote, said Ward, who was pleased by the unanimity of the canvassing board. Ward served on the panel with fellow council members Sandra Slusher McDonald, Geraldine Willingham, Donald Clendening and Amy Schmitt.

"When this is done, there should be no question that it was done fairly," Ward said.

Regardless of the outcome, Smith expects a challenge to be filed within the required 48-hour period after the council's decision.

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