No changes in Wood County election results

The Wood County Commission met Tuesday as the election canvassing board to review provisional ballots cast on election day last week, review absentee ballots received after election day and to oversee a hand count of three randomly picked voting precincts. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — With the provisional and absentee ballots counted there were no changes in any of the races from last week’s election, but problems were discovered during the canvassing process which county officials addressed.

The Wood County Commission met Tuesday as the election canvassing board to review provisional ballots cast during the election and review absentee ballots that arrived after election night. A hand count was also conducted of three randomly picked voting precincts.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said a problem was discovered during the canvass. On election night when the first votes were being tallied, the first 11 precincts brought in were counted and not properly cleared out of the computer when the next precincts were brought in resulting in those first 11 precincts being counted twice.

Those 11 precincts represented 2,391 votes which were initially doubled.

Officials have since corrected the problem, removed the extra votes and will be updating the final numbers on the county’s website.

”None of the candidates’ positions changed as a result of this,” Rhodes said.

There were 212 provisional ballots from election night reviewed on Tuesday. Of those, 151 were approved to be counted and added to the election totals. None of those changed any of the outcomes.

Some of the reasons for ballots to be dismissed and not counted were people voting in the wrong precinct from where they lived which would have impacted House of Delegate races, people were not registered to vote having let their eligibility lapse due to inactivity for a number of years, some people did not bring proper I.D. to vote and did not appear by the start of the canvass with their I.D. to confirm their identity to be able to have their vote count.

There were people who went to the wrong precinct, were informed where they should go, but insisted on voting where they were which would have impacted House races so the votes did not count.

Some of the reasons ballots were counted included people moved but were still in the same voting precinct, people moved and went to the proper precinct for their new address and the voter may have gone to the wrong precinct but the ballot would be the same as in their own precinct.

They had an instance of someone who was accidentally purged from the voting rolls, but who should have been in there so their provisional ballot counted.

Rhodes said they had some errors due to people with the same name. In one instance, two women had the same first and last name.

When one came in to vote, pollworkers had her having voted early when it was another person. They identified the women through their middle names and other information so the early vote still counted and the provisional ballot counted. There was one other similar instance identified, Rhodes said.

”We checked and made sure someone did not vote twice and the votes (of the two separate people) counted,” he said. ”We had several people who were just not registered to vote and had not voted in years with one person having not voted in 12 years. In that case, it does not count.”

They had an instance of a man and his wife who participated in early voting, but “changed their minds” and tried to vote again on election day. They voted a provisional ballot, but after review by the county commission those did not count.

During a hand count, officials take the paper rolls generated by the voting machines to record each vote. They must come back to the totals of election night.

The county has four people involved. One person reads, one person makes sure they are reading it correctly and two people track the numbers and the count.

”We add those up to make sure it comes back to the correct total of election night,” Rhodes said.

The county had received 23 absentee ballots since election day, but only three were postmarked by the day after election day which are allowed to be counted. One absentee ballot that arrived Thursday, Nov. 8 had a postmark of Oct. 23.

Without the postmark, but still arriving before the canvassing board convened, county officials approved the ballots to be counted.

”We looked for the postmark, but the post office doesn’t always postmark the bigger paper envelopes,” Rhodes said. ”It is then up to the county commission if they want to proceed and count those.”

County officials determined that the people made the effort to vote and allowed the ballots to be counted.

Rhodes said they had one woman who properly filled out an absentee ballot, sent it in, but died before election day. That ballot was counted.

There was an instance where an unregistered woman voted in place of her daughter, but signed her own name. The daughter who was registered came to the poll to vote and ended up having to vote a provisional ballot.

Officials said they did not immediately catch it because their names were similar, but ended up counting the daughter’s ballot. In another instance someone had participated in early voting, but the wrong person was credited for the vote on the computer and that person had to vote a provisional ballot.

Officials determined she did not vote twice and counted her provisional ballot.

County officials said they would have to better train pollworkers in the future.