Some clear local winners in primary, other races undecided with absentee ballots still to count

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County’s election returns are still incomplete after a day of precinct voting, 10 days of early voting and more than a

A voter heads for her precinct on Tuesday afternoon.

month of voting by absentee ballot in this year’s primary election.

By 10:45 p.m. today, 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.

Not included in the preliminary totals are absentee ballots that were postmarked by voters today but have not been received by the County Clerk’s office. Any absentee ballot postmarked by June 9 and received by the start of vote canvassing on June 15 will be counted in the primary election.

According to County Clerk Kim Nickles, the county sent out 3,203 absentee ballots and have gotten back 2,759 of those, leaving 444 absentee ballots unreturned as of this evening.

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.

The race among three Republicans for the nomination for Assessor, however, 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.

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 is 194 votes.

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. No Democrats are running for the County Commission.

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.

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.

District races

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. That race will be decided with votes from other precincts in the multi-county district.

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. That race will also be decided with votes from other precincts in the multi-county district.

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. That primary race will be decided with votes from other precincts in the multi-county district.

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. Results for the large district will be available as other counties report their precinct totals.

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. That total includes

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.

Morgan County Commissioners will begin canvassing the vote on Monday, June 15 and continue through Wednesday, June 17. Election totals will not be official until canvass is complete.