Vote discrepancy realized ahead of canvass

November 11, 2018
Kanawha County Commissioners Ben Salango, from left, Kent Carper and Hoppy Shores and County Clerk Vera McCormick discuss a discrepancy in vote totals during a news conference at the Voter Registration Office in Charleston on Friday. The discrepancy involved more than 1,700 votes, Kanawha County election officials said.

CHARLESTON — Kanawha County officials vowed on Friday to get to the bottom of a discrepancy of more than 1,700 votes between the number of unofficial votes listed on printouts generated from data from voting machines and the number of ballot stubs tabulated by poll workers in Tuesday’s general election.

The discrepancy involved votes cast in 20 Kanawha County precincts, most of them in the Clendenin, Elkview, Sissonville and Pinch areas, as well as two precincts at Capital High School. Only one precinct in Charleston proper was involved, Precinct 165 at Chamberlain Elementary School, where a discrepancy of 339 votes was reported.

“We don’t know what happened,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said in a news conference announcing the discrepancy. “But I can assure you that the integrity of the votes cast in Kanawha County in this election is guaranteed.”

All individual ballots cast, as well as the voting machines on which they were processed, are secured under lock and key at the Voter Registration Office awaiting the start of the official election canvass at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, Carper said.

“By 7 a.m. on Tuesday, after consulting with the county clerk and the county solicitor, we will have determined the best course of action to take to deal with this situation,” Carper said. “I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done, but it’s just speculation at the moment.”

Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick said the discrepancy appears to involve ballots that were held back and not tabulated for an as-yet-to-be-determined reason.

The discrepancy was reported to the Secretary of State’s Office, which offered assistance to McCormick “with the election system vendor for a thorough review,” according to a statement tweeted Friday afternoon.

Foul play is not suspected, according to the statement.

Carper said it is uncertain whether the outcome of any races will be affected by the discrepancy, though he said “it doesn’t look like the Charleston mayoral race is affected.”

In addition to unraveling the 1,739-vote discrepancy outlined

in the news conference, Tuesday’s vote canvass will determine the outcome of about 500 challenged, or “provisional,” votes cast in the election.

At least half of those votes are expected to be added to the tally, Carper said, since they traditionally involve poll workers unable to vote in their home precincts while working at other polling places.

Commissioner Ben Salango called for holding Friday’s news conference “to make sure there was transparency” over the vote numbers glitch.

“It’s the best practice to notify voters and candidates to let them know what’s happening,” he said.

A number of general election candidates attended the news conference and checked the discrepancies listed for the precincts in which they were running to see if the outcome could have been affected.

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