by KATE SHUNNEY
Morgan County’s election returns were still incomplete after a day of canvassing, precinct voting, 10 days of early voting and more than a month of voting by absentee ballot in this year’s primary election.
Election results will be certified and official when County Commissioners finishing canvassing the election today, Wednesday, June 17.
On Monday, County Clerk Kim Nickles said she believed the clerk’s office had received 38 absentee ballots between June 9, the day of the primary election, and Monday morning, June 15. State law says any absentee ballot postmarked by June 9 and received by the start of canvass will be counted toward an official vote total.
None of Morgan County’s races were so close on election night that the absentee ballots would change their outcome.
By 10:45 p.m. on June 9, preliminary vote totals had been tallied from the county’s 13 precincts. Those totals include ballots cast during early voting and absentee ballots received by today.
According to County Clerk Kim Nickles, the county sent out 3,203 absentee ballots and had gotten back 2,759 of those, leaving 444 absentee ballots unreturned as of election night.
With 13,911 registered voters in Morgan County and 5,059 ballots cast in the primary, local voting hit a turnout rate of 36.4%.
Top Morgan County races
With preliminary election returns, the race between Sheriff K.C. Bohrer and former sheriff Vince Shambaugh in the Republican primary appeared to favor another four-year term for Bohrer. Bohrer received 1,940 votes to Shambaugh’s 1,843, leaving a margin of just 97 votes.
There are no Democrats running for the office, so if he is the official winner of the primary election, he will have no opposition on the ballot.
The race among three Republicans for the nomination for Assessor had a clearer frontrunner, with the Assessor’s Chief Deputy Debbie Weaver garnering nearly 60% of the vote. Weaver took in 2,200 votes, while Allen Truax earned 993 and Irv Miller 485. Weaver has no opposition on the ballot in November’s general election.
In a four-way non-partisan race for Morgan County Magistrate in Division 1, former magistrate Greg Miller appeared to be the winner, taking in 1,463 votes. Johnnie Walter, Chief Deputy with the Sheriff’s Department, brought in 1,269 votes. Incumbent Magistrate Debbie Ditto pulled in 1,085 votes and newcomer Angie Schmidt had 960 votes. The margin between Miller and Walter was 194 votes.
Magistrate Kermit Ambrose won another four-year term on the bench in his division with 4,027 votes. He had no challengers in his race.
Winning magistrates will take office on July 1.
In other top local races, Commissioner Joel Tuttle took in 66% of the Republican vote in his re-election bid, pushing out challenger Tim Johnson. Tuttle has no opposition on the ballot in November.
In other non-partisan races that were decided on June 9, Pete Gordon and John Rowland were re-elected to the Morgan County Board of Education with 3,426 votes and 3,036 respectively.
On Republican ballots, Prosecuting Attorney Dan James took in 2,975 votes in his bid for another term in office.
House of Delegates 58th
Local voters favored George Miller of Berkeley Springs in the race for West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 58th district, giving him 1,281 votes to 1,114 votes cast for longtime Delegate Daryl Cowles. District-wide, Cowles was behind Miller by just 125 votes, pulling in 1,550 votes to Miller’s 1,675.
Democrat Tom Harden of Berkeley Springs pulled in 977 votes in his party primary as he seeks the seat for the 58th district. Harden and Miller will face off against one another in the November general election.
House of Delegates 59th
In the race for the House of Delegates representing the 59th district, Ken Reed took in 657 votes in Morgan County, topping Delegate Larry Kump, who earned 590 votes. Voters in the part of Berkeley County that’s included in the 59th district also backed Reed over Kump. Reed pulled in 1,644 votes to Kump’s 1,244 in the GOP primary.
State Senate 15th
Morgan County voters backed State Senator Craig Blair in the GOP primary to retain his seat representing the 15th district. Blair took in 1994 votes to 1228 votes cast for challenger Kenneth Mattson. District-wide Blair won 8,061 votes to Mattson’s 7,163.
Local physician Matt Hahn captured Morgan County voters’ support in his GOP bid for U.S. House of Representatives in the second district, taking in 1,902 local votes while Congressman Alex Mooney rolled up 1,728 here. Across the district, Mooney captured 72% of the GOP vote in the primary, taking in 49,298 votes to Hahn’s 19,410. Mooney will face Democrat Cathy Kunkel in the November general election. Kunkel took in 50,525 votes in her party’s primary.
As preliminary vote totals stood on Monday, Governor Jim Justice had won the GOP primary in his re-election bid. Justice will face Democrat Ben Salango in the November general election.
Democrat Joe Biden won his party’s nomination to run for U.S. President in the state with 119,189 votes — 65% of the party’s vote.
President Donald Trump brought in 194,799 votes statewide, earning 95% of the GOP ballots.
Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito won 170,588 votes — 83.5% of the GOP vote in her party’s primary in a re-election bid. She will face Democrat Paula Jean Swearingen, who took in 69,870 votes in her party’s primary.
An historic primary
West Virginia’s normal primary election date of May 12 was pushed to June 9 by state officials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down public spaces and narrowed government operations from the end of March into May.
On June 9, Morgan County voters who had not voted early or through paper absentee ballots went to 13 precincts around the county to cast their ballots in person during a sunny primary election day with temperatures over 90 degrees. Polls were open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
County poll workers had voters sign polling books with a pencil that voters then used to make their ballot selections on touchscreen voting machines in order to reduce personal contact with equipment. Some voters wore masks in polling places, which had signs to direct voters about how many people were permitted in polls at one time in order to comply with social distancing.
There are 13,911 registered voters in Morgan County, according to the County Clerk’s office.
There are 6,302 registered Republicans in Morgan County, 2,756 registered Democrats, 4,417 who are registered Non-Affiliated and 436 voters registered to other parties.
Election totals will not be official until canvass is complete.