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Canvassing board adds 672 ballots as June 9 primary results made official

MORGANTOWN — From the rescheduled June date to the avalanche of absentee ballots to voters in masks mindful of social distancing, COVID-19 ensured the June 9 primary was anything but routine.

And while all that uncertainty may have knocked the turnout down slightly, it didn’t do a whole lot to slow down the process in Monongalia County.

It took a little over seven hours on Monday at Monongalia County Election Headquarters to complete canvassing and produce the official 2020 primary results.

All told, 672 ballots were added, bringing the total turnout to 22,641, or 31.6% of the county’s 71,458 registered voters. That’s down from  38.31% (24,688) participation in the 2016 primary.

Of the ballots cast, 7,837 were Republican (36.21% of 21,643 registered) and 13,514 Democrat (46.31% of 29,180 registered). There were also 1,290 nonpartisan ballots cast.

As of election night, Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney said there was the potential for as many as  2,300 valid absentee ballots to arrive after Election Day. That number turned out to be 577 — 89 of which ended up being disallowed by the Monongalia County Commission, sitting as the canvassing board.

As for provisional ballots, the board accepted 184 and disallowed 109.

Two precincts were randomly selected — Precinct 63 from Mountainview Elementary and Precinct 41 out of Mason-Dixon Elementary — for a full hand count by teams of poll workers to ensure the tallies  matched the numbers recorded on Election Day.

The Monongalia County Commission will certify the results during its June 24 regular meeting.

During a pause in Monday’s activities, Blaney admitted trying to hold an election during a global pandemic makes an already stressful job way more difficult.

“It’s been a challenge because of COVID-19 and the social distancing and the fact that our staff couldn’t be in the office full time for such a majority of the election season. It’s been difficult,” she said. “But we’ve been through a lot of hard work and because we’ve got great people working, we’ve been able to get it done.”

Great people working and a great leader, according to Monongalia County Commission President Ed Hawkins, who described the work of Blaney, the clerk’s office and the county’s election workers as “always exemplary.”

“I can’t say enough about the exemplary work that Carye and her staff do, and the time and effort they put in. There’s not a detail that gets overlooked,” Hawkins said, recalling it took about 90 minutes from the closure of the polls to get unofficial results on election night.

“I was driving home and they came over the radio and said Kanawha County was getting their first numbers in,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Bloom echoed those sentiments.

“We’re very fortunate to have Carye Blaney and her staff. It’s one more reason why the state should look to us to see how things should be run,” he said.

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