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Absentee ballots to be challenged in court after candidate claims they’re faulty

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — With weeks to go before the November Election, an At-Large Huntington City Council candidate plans to sue the Wayne County Clerk, the City of Huntington, and the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office over what he claims are faulty ballots.

“They don’t try to work the problem out, they just want to sue.” 

Renick Booth, Wayne County Clerk

Republican David Harrington is running for an At-Large Huntington City Council seat.

He claims absentee ballots were sent with wrong instructions to vote for only one candidate instead of two in Wayne County, and in Cabell County the candidates were listed in the wrong order on the ballot which went to three thousand voters.

According to the City of Huntington Ballot Commission, the order was chosen by a drawing of lot, as per the city’s charter. However, Harrington maintains state law differs.

“The state law provided that the party winning the previous presidential election as mentioned by the chair was to be in first order on the ballot. But, in the At-Large, that practice was not followed according to state law. And, I would contend that causes the ballots to be incorrect and in need of correction.” 

David Harrington, (R) candidate for Huntington City Council At Large

Harrington and his attorney say accuracy is imperative when most people are voting absentee due to the pandemic—so they plan to sue.

“I was told if we wanted any relief, then the only recourse would be judicial relief. So, basically the prosecutor said ‘Sue me.’ So, that’s where we’re at today.” 

David Harrington, (R) candidate for Huntington City Council At Large

Renick Booth—the Wayne County Clerk—on the other hand, admits the ballots from Wayne County were misprinted, but says corrections are already in the works.

Renick Booth, Wayne County Clerk, points out how the new ballots have the correct printing, and will be sent out shortly. (Photo Credit: WOWK 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

“Well we got new ballots. These were the corrected ones. It says ‘vote for two’ instead of ‘vote for one.’ We’re sending them out now is what we’re doing.” 

Renick Booth, Wayne County Clerk

Still, Harrington says he fears those three hundred misprinted ballots will be counted, and says all of the ballots should be reissued.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is aware of the claim, and spoke at a City of Huntington Ballot Commission Hearing called for the issue on Monday.

“Our role here is just to make sure that we follow the statute as it’s written. The purpose for that is to ensure the integrity of the election. So it’s my understanding in this matter that the error is an alleged error, a perceived error. That is, whether or not the order of candidates should have been by state code in chapter three or by charter.” 

Donald Kersey, general counsel, Secretary of State’s Office

Harrington says he plans to file the suit against the Wayne County Clerk first, followed by a separate suit against the City of Huntington and the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office a few days later for the two distinct complaints.

Now, it remains to be seen who’s interpretation of the law will stand in court.

However, the Wayne County Clerk says the new ballots are being sent out.

If you believe you received a faulty ballot, the Wayne County Clerk asks you reach out. Contact information is provided on this website.

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