KEYSER - Folded ballots and overvotes caused the vote-counting process in Mineral County to move slower than a crawl Tuesday night, with only six out of 30 precincts being counted by 2 a.m.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Folded ballots and overvotes caused the vote-counting process in Mineral County to move slower than a crawl Tuesday night, with only six out of 30 precincts being counted by 2 a.m.
The victor of some of the local races seemed pretty obvious, but others could have gone either way with only one-fifth of the precincts being counted.
“We’re having two problems,” county clerk Lauren Ellifritz explained to the crowd gathered in the courtroom to hear results that were not immediately forthcoming.
“One problem is the absentee ballots are folded and they’re not going through the machine,” she said, explaining that the Opti-Scan machine was reading the folds as an error.
“The other problem is, we’re getting a lot of overvotes. Where it says vote for three, people voted for five, and where it says vote for 22, they voted who who knows how many,” she said.
At the beginning of the evening, things seemed to be going fairly quickly, with the mandated test of the equipment being done by 7:45 p.m. - just 15 minutes after the polls closed.
When the workers began counting the early and absentee ballots, however, things quickly went awry when the Opti-Scan machine started kicking out ballots.
When that happens, the ballot commissioners - one Republican and one Democrat - must examine each ballot individually and attempt to determine what the problem is. If there is an overvote, the extra votes must be covered up with a small dot so the ballot will scan correctly.
So many ballots were kicked out Tuesday night that the commissioners couldn’t keep up and Ellifritz enlisted a second set of commissioners to help speed things along.
Once the early and absentee ballots were finally counted, their totals were added into each individual precinct as they were counted.
The first precinct therefore did not start moving through the scanning machine until approximately 11:30 p.m.
By 2 a.m., only six had been counted.
The following results are for paper ballots only; the totals for those who voted electronically would be added at the end of the process.
In addition, the 68 provisional ballots will be counted on Monday, when the Mineral County Commission conducts the official canvass.
In the race for county commission, it could go either way as incumbent Richard Lechliter had a small lead with 531 votes to Jack Bowers’ 438 and Charles vonHagel’s 421.
The race for assessor was more defined, however, as Jill Cosner was leading with 776 votes to Donnie Ashby’s 366 and Terry Liller’s 238.
One of the most hotly contested races - Magistrate Division 1 - also had a clear leader at 2 a.m. - Charles Gulbronson, with 620 votes, followed by Wes Ours with 376, Michelle Cook with 356, Chris Paitsel with 331, Nathan Wasser with 227, and Ernie Miller with 170.
In Magistrate Division 2, Patrick Amoroso was leading with 1,172 votes to Damon Tillman’s 835.
In the race for the single contested seat on the Mineral County Board of Education, Rob Woy was leading with 1,156 vote to incumbent Butch Wahl’s 778.
In the multi-county race for Circuit Court Judge Division 2, Jay Courrier was leading Mineral County with 1,694 votes to Jason Sites’ 371. Voters in Grant and Tucker counties also weigh in on that race.
It was expected that the vote-counting process would continue until at least 5 a.m. today.
All totals are unofficial until the canvass on Monday.