Signatures reveal more than names: Discrepancies in candidates’ ballot petitions all the reason for further investigation

We have the right to an election free from fraud.

Morgantown deserves the confidence that candidates, voters and election officials comply not only with the spirit of the law, but its letter, too.

Yes, we’re well familiar with the abysmal turnout of voters in this city’s elections. And often, too many of the seven races for City Council seats are not even contested.

But that is never a reason to “cut corners” or be disappointed some have begun analyzing handwriting on ballot petitions.

As for the former candidate, who recently withdrew has name from the ballot, hoping to save  the “unnecessary and wasteful” work of investigating his petition — it doesn’t work that way.

When you admit to a campaign violation that’s all the more reason to investigate. Forging signatures on a ballot petition affects not only you, but the credibility of elections.

We urge the city clerk and the secretary of state’s office to continue their investigation and that of the second candidate who apparently allowed spouses to sign for him/herself and for his wife or her husband. An investigation will cost some time and money, but anyone who blatantly violates election laws should face a penalty.

Sure, it takes leg work to come up with 75 valid signatures in a candidate’s respective ward, but can it really be that tough?

If someone needs to take shortcuts to get 75 names on a ballot, what would they do when the going actually gets tough in office?

In this day and age, claims of “voter fraud” echo everywhere from the White House to West Virginia’s secretary of state’s office.

Whether you believe in such a prevalence from such fraud exists is beside the point in this incident.

The point is this issue is still front and center in the headlines. Only recently,  the first recorded instance of a federal election was thrown out over fraud — not by voters, but the candidate.

We’re unsure any of  this piqued the Morgantown citizen’s interest, who uncovered the discrepancies on these local ballot petitions.

But we have to wonder how many Freedom of Information Act requests to review the veracity of ballot signatures has occurred in Morgantown, if ever?

Morgantown’s charter is clear. Every signature must be provided by the person whose name it purports to be.

To do otherwise, for any reason, is tantamount to fraud and diminishes the electoral process.

None of these wrongs make a right, but there is a positive side to this incident.

Going forward, the city clerk’s office, more citizens and this newspaper will be taking a longer look at candidates’  ballot petitions.

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