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Wood County Clerk explains timing of vote counts

PARKERSBURG — As absentee ballots start coming in to the county, Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes explains how the ballots will be counted and tallied once early voting starts and on Election Day.

As of Tuesday, the clerk’s office has had 4,907 absentee ballots sent out. To date, 1,667 have been sent back with an additional 340 received Tuesday.

Early voting will run from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31 and will be taking place at the Judge Black Annex in downtown Parkersburg as well as satellite locations in Vienna, Williamstown, Lubeck and Mineral Wells. Officials are planning to have all the locations open for the full 10 days prior to Election Day that are allowed by law.

In the past, only the Black Annex was open the 10 days and the satellite locations were open five days prior to the election. Officials are expanding it to better serve in-person voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow voters to spread out.

Absentee ballots received back are being held in a secure container. Rhodes is doing work to make sure the records show a person has voted so they can know their ballot has been received.

Those ballots will not be taken out and scanned until early voting starts, Rhodes said.

Any results are “parked” for the time being, Rhodes said adding officials do not know what those results are.

“Nothing is counted until after the polls close on Election Night,” Rhodes said.

The chips used in the scanners are brought to the courthouse on Election Night to do the count. The chips from the early voting scanners will be there that night to be tallied with the rest at the same time.

The only thing that will not be counted on Election Night will be any challenged ballots cast during the election. Those can include people who might have gone to the wrong voting precinct, is not on the county poll book as being registered to vote, having been sent an absentee ballot that is shown not to have been returned yet or other concerns.

The county commission will review the challenge ballots as well as any properly postmarked absentee ballots that are marked by Election Day and add those to any final counts. Personnel also do a hand count of ballots from three randomly picked voting precincts.

People can still request an absentee ballot. Requests have to be in the Clerk’s Office by Oct. 28.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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