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A few problems on Election Day   (WV)

BRETT DUNLAP   Parkersburgh News and Sentinel    15 May 2008

PARKERSBURG — With the May primary wrapped up, Wood County experienced a few problems, but County Clerk Jamie Six said things went well.

Early in the day Tuesday, Six had to go out and replace and repair a number of printers on the voting machines. Also, the city started a water line repair on 16th Street that caused some problems for people to reach a polling location at Woodman Hall at 15th and Lynn streets.

There were also some electronic issues with some of the voting machines that caused a delay in tallying the votes. Six said they had the usually concerns of keeping campaign materials the proper distance from polling locations and other concerns.

However, one of the biggest problems some voters faced was people who were not affiliated with a particular party being able to get the primary ballot they wanted to vote on.

For the first time, all of the primaries for the Republican, Democrat and Mountain parties were open to non-affiliated voters.

However, the existing rules prohibited pollworkers from being able to offer one of the three ballots to voters, leaving it to each voter to have to ask for the ballot they wanted to vote on, Six said adding that once a ballot was given, pollworkers were not allowed to give another.

‘‘We had a few people upset by that,’’ Six said.

An e-mail from Jason Williams, manager of the Elections Division in the Secretary of State’s office, sent in March reminded each county clerk of this fact.

‘‘Please remember when training your pollworkers that state law does not allow for the receiving board to notify the independent/non-partisan voters that they can vote a Democratic, Republican or Mountain Party Ballot,’’ Williams wrote. ‘‘This requirement is outlined in the new version of the pollworker training...’’

Six said he didn’t agree with this, but he and his people had to follow the rules as they are presented.

He is hoping that the Legislature and the Secretary of State’s office will go back and look at this issue and make adjustments so voters will have an easier time getting the correct ballot in future elections.

‘‘I would like to see pollworkers trained so they will be able to ask people what ballot they want to vote on,’’ he said.

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