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Berkeley Co. affirms validity of election results

May 16, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A five-hour review Friday of more than 200 regular, provisional and absentee ballots cast in Berkeley County's primary election affirmed the validity of unofficial results announced Tuesday night, officials said.

The Berkeley County Commission, convened as the county's Board of Canvassers, also allowed a number of provisional ballots and seven late-arriving absentee paper ballots to be added to the unofficial tallies after reviewing results from three randomly selected voting precincts.

The additional votes are not expected to affect unofficial results that gave practically every winning candidate an insurmountable lead.

The votes selected for review were from precincts 6, 14 and 44-H, said Bonnie Woodfall, voters registration supervising deputy clerk. Precincts 6 and 14 are in the City of Martinsburg, and 44-H was a temporary voting district created to exclude Town of Hedgesville residents from receiving ballots with zoning-related questions on them.

Martinsburg residents also could not vote on the zoning or transferable-development rights ordinance questions on Tuesday's primary ballot.

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Except for a few provisional ballot questions, Woodfall said the results were "pretty much on the money" and within the 1 percent margin of error required by state law.

Exceeding the accuracy standard would have triggered a review of the more than 20,000 ballots cast in the election, officials said.

Woodfall said the canvassing board accepted most of the provisional ballots, but declined to count some cast by people who were not registered to vote in Berkeley County. Those who were registered as Republican or Democrat, but voted in the opposing party, also were not counted.

The election marked the first time that the West Virginia Democratic Party joined Republicans and opened its nomination contest to voters with no political party affiliation. It was not immediately clear how many of the more than 12,000 ballots cast in the Democratic Party's primary were from voters with no party affiliation.

Nearly 60 percent of the 20,888 ballots cast were in the Democratic Party's contest, according to unofficial results. Official tallies are expected to be available next week, Woodfall said.

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