By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Approximately 2,700 absentee ballots slowed the ballot counting process to a crawl from the very beginning Tuesday evening, but it was a mechanical failure which brought the entire thing to an abrupt halt at approximately 4:15 a.m.
With seven precincts left to be counted, a sensor on the ballot counting machine stopped reading the ballots and after attempting several adjustments, county clerk Lauren Ellifritz was forced to wait until a technician could be reached - probably after 8 a.m.
When the counting came to a standstill, the one local race that everyone was waiting for - sheriff - saw Forrest “Buddy” Ellifritz in the lead with 2,098 votes, followed by Keith Anderson with 1,665, Rod Ryan with 744 and Jon Baniak with 625.
With seven precincts to still be counted, however, the race could easily go to either of the top two.
In the race for the District 1 seat on the board of education, Donald Ashby was in the lead with 3,498 votes to Butch Wahl’s 3,117.
Again, the race could go either way with the remainder of the votes tallied.