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City officials upset over voting issues in Jefferson County

August 08, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan is dealing again with discontent over the election process in the county, this time from the City of Charles Town.

City of Charles Town officials say they are filing a complaint with state voting officials over alleged problems of voter names not appearing in polling books and problems with citizens registering to vote through the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Maghan said she tried to talk to Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith about the situation Tuesday but could not get many details from Smith.

"I think as usual, there is a miscommunication between the county and the city," Maghan said.

Maghan's office manages county elections, and the City of Charles Town relies on the county's voting records for its elections, Smith said Tuesday.

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Smith said the city has discovered problems in records of county voters, such as names of registered voters not showing up in polling books.

When people register to vote through the Division of Motor Vehicles, the day they register through the DMV is the day their voter registration is supposed to become effective, Smith said.

But some voters' registrations have not become effective until the registration information is turned over to Maghan's office, which affects whether the voters are registered in time to vote, Smith said.

Smith said the problems resulted in 15 ballots that could not be counted in the last city election.

"These are just things that need to be addressed," Smith said.

Smith said the Charles Town City Council voted unanimously Monday night to file a complaint with the state Secretary of State's office over the issues.

Ben Beakes, chief of staff for the Secretary of State's office, said he was aware of news reports about the situation but said he could not comment.

Maghan said she is not aware of any problems of people registering to vote through the Division of Motor Vehicles.

For example, more than 150 voters registered through the DMV for the table games referendum in June and election workers were supplied with lists of the voters so there would be no problems, Maghan said.

There has been a list of problems involving elections in the county in recent years, including voting equipment not working properly, vote tabulating running way behind operations in Berkeley and Morgan counties and worries that some county voters have been voting in wrong precincts.

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