Special election results counted for schools’ excess levy

PARKERSBURG -Following what may have been the shortest canvass in Wood County history, the county commission and board of education jointly declared the final election results for the schools’ excess levy on Tuesday.

That declaration set in motion the 48-hour clock for anyone to challenge the election. If there is no challenge the results will then be certified.

The unofficial election night total for the special Nov. 23 excess levy election was 4,343 for, and 1,137 against. The levy required 50 percent majority to pass.

The final numbers, after Tuesday’s canvass Tuesday, were 4,381 for the levy, and 1,141 against.

A precinct-by-precinct breakdown of the numbers showed voters in three precincts turned thumbs down to the levy: Precinct 33 (located at Beechwood Presbyterian Church) with two yes votes to six voting no; Precinct 40A (located at Rosemar United Methodist Church) which reported 38 no to 13 yes votes, and Precinct 61 (located at Deerwalk Volunteer Fire Department) where 31 voters said no to 25 yes votes.

The breakdown showed there were 1,526 early votes yes to 478 no votes for a total of 2,004 that participated in the early vote.

It only took about an hour Tuesday morning for the 44 provisional ballots to be ruled upon and the required hand count of 5 percent of the precincts completed.

Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch said the commissioners, with the board’s joint approval, decided to change the process somewhat this time.

“We changed the process slightly. Because it was a single ballot countywide with everyone voting on the same thing, and this was the first election with the recently consolidated precincts, and there was some confusion about the consolidated precincts, we voted to count the provisional ballots of those who voted in the wrong precinct due to confusion with the precinct consolidation,” Couch said.

The 44 provisional ballots would not have changed the final outcome of the election either way.

“We wanted to have a fair representation of the county in the proper way and make sure all the votes count,” said Tim Yeater, president of the Wood County Board of Education.

Board and school officials and commissioners Couch and Steve Gainer were present for the canvass.

“There were two voters who were registered in other counties and had moved here, but had not changed their registration status, so their provisional ballots did not count. We want to remind anyone who has moved to Wood County from another county they need to change their status in order to have the ability to vote here,” Couch said.

“We know there was some confusion election day with the consolidation, even though new voter registration cards and notification letters were sent out, and the clerk’s office did a good job with individuals who called in, but life is hectic and the election was on a Saturday, so there was still some confusion,” Couch said.

An estimated 7,700 Wood County voters were affected by the recent precinct changes instituted this fall. Wood County’s 86 voting precincts were pared down to 69.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said earlier some of the provisional ballots were pollworkers voting where they were working which was not their regular precinct. Such ballots have to be challenged, but they are counted during the canvass.

The county is required to hand count five percent of the precincts, with fewer precincts, a small turnout and only yes or no to check, that process went quickly.

The commissioners were notified Monday pollworker costs for the special Saturday election amounted to $75,350.

Rhodes said additional expenses will include ballot printing, as well as overtime for maintenance employees because the election was conducted on a Saturday, and other related expenses.

“We should have all the costs by mid-December to be able to get a bill to the board of education by Jan. 1,” Rhodes said.

The only issue on the special election ballot was renewal of the excess levy for the Wood County Schools. The levy is for five years, with the total raised annually to be approximately $16,769,716.