MORGANTOWN — With 162 votes separating incumbent and challenger in the Monongalia County Commission race — and as many as 1,000 absentee ballots still out — all eyes now turn to Monday’s canvassing process to see how the race shakes out.
Challenger Jeff Arnett, a Democrat, leads incumbent Republican Ed Hawkins by 162 votes — 19,739 to 19,577 — for the Eastern District commission seat.
County Clerk Carye Blaney reiterated on election night that there could potentially be as many as 1,000 absentee ballots that could still be counted as long as they are postmarked no later than Election Day and arrive before the end of the canvassing process.
Further, Blaney said there are about 325 provisional ballots, meaning the ballot was cast but not counted until a determination is made on its validity during canvassing.
Contacted Tuesday evening, both Hawkins and Arnett said “It is what it is.”
“Who knows, I guess. It’s better to be up than be down right now,” Arnett said. “I’m thrilled with all the support. Almost 20,000 votes in my first election, that’s crazy. I’m thankful.”
Arnett jumped out to a big early lead based on absentee ballots and early voting totals.
“That last flurry was a nice charge by Mr. Hawkins. I’m still a little in shock about the whole thing if I’m being honest,” he said. “But that’s kind of where we are.”
Hawkins said he, too, was thankful for all the support.
“I want to congratulate my opponent on a race well run,” he said. “We have to go through the process of the provisionals to make it official.”
Canvassing will begin on Monday and is typically completed within several hours.
For some context, in the June primary election, Blaney said there was the potential for more than 2,000 absentee ballots to arrive after Election Day. That number turned out to be 577. Of those, 89 ended up being disallowed during canvassing. During that process, the board accepted 184 and disallowed 109 provisional ballots.