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Tatar wins Westover tiebreaker as part of canvassing process

In the end, the winner of Westover City Council’s third at-large seat was decided by crumpled sheets of paper pulled from a plastic storage bin in a best-of-seven format. 

Duane Tatar took the tiebreaker over Edie Viola after his name was drawn in four of the first six pulls. 

Tatar and Viola, the two incumbents in the four-person race, came into Monday’s primary election canvassing process tied for third place with 313 votes.  

There were three provisional ballots added and one late-arriving absentee ballot counted out of Westover. Once those were added in, Tatar and Viola remained tied with 315 votes each, forcing the Monongalia County Board of Canvassers to break the deadlock by lot as state code mandates. 

Tatar was present for the drawing process. Viola, who had been at the county’s election headquarters earlier Monday morning, was contacted but opted not to return for the tiebreaker. 

“That was nerve-wracking, but I’m relieved,” Tatar said after seeing his name drawn for the fourth time. “The closer we got to the end there the more nervous I got. All I can say is I’m happy the way it turned out and I’m looking forward to my first full four-year term. It’s good to know I’m going to be there and, hopefully, we can do a lot of good things for Westover.” 

Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney, who oversaw the tie-breaking process chosen by the board of canvassers (Monongalia County Commission) said it was a new experience for her. 

“I think this is nearly 30 elections I’ve run for the county, and this is the first time we’ve ever had a tie,” she said.  

All told, the board of canvassers disallowed 50 of the 83 provisional ballots it reviewed.  

A provisional ballot is cast but not counted until a determination is made on its validity. The voter not being registered in Monongalia County, voting in the wrong precinct or voting the wrong party ballot are among the most common reasons provisional ballots are denied in a primary election.  

The board disallowed seven of the 36 late-arriving absentee ballots that were reviewed for arriving after Election Day without the required postmark.  

Total election turnout ended up at 28.19% as 17,713 of 62,829 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election. Of that number, 11,097 voted on Election Day; 6,244 participated in early voting; 339 voted absentee ballots and as mentioned, there were 33 provisional ballots counted. 

Blaney said she was disappointed that turnout was below previous presidential primaries but pleased that everything came off smoothly. 

She noted this election marked the first time municipal elections were included as part of the primary as Westover and Star City opted to eliminate their standalone elections and join with the county. 

“I’ll say we were glad to have the two municipalities on our ballot with the town of Star City and the city of Westover. This was the first time a municipality has joined onto the county ballot, so I really want to thank them for taking the steps to do that. I think it was a big benefit to their voters,” Blaney said, pointing out that more than 750 ballots were cast by Westover residents. 

It’s believed fewer than 150 participated in the city’s 2022 standalone election. 

As part of the canvassing process, poll workers are conducting hand counted audits of election results from precincts 32 and 58. Minus a one-hour lunch break, that process ran from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday and will resume Tuesday morning.

While the numbers listed above appear to be the final results, they remain unofficial until the canvassing process is complete.