Early voting starts today in WV Primary

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Clerk Kim Johnson-Nickles has been making last-minute preparations to launch early in-person voting today, Wednesday, April 27 in her office in the Morgan County Courthouse.

Early voting continues through May 7 in the clerk’s office during regular business hours at four touch-screen terminals. Voters can cast ballots on Saturday, April 30 and Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during this time.

Nickles travelled to southern West Virginia over the weekend to pick up voting machine PEBs – the device put into the voting machine to bring up each voter’s ballot. Last-minute ballot changes must be loaded onto the device so voters using touch-screen voting machines will see the proper candidates and instructions.

Paper ballots for absentee voters have had to be corrected for this primary election as well.

A candidate for the House of Delegates, Marsha Stiner, was disqualified from running for the 90th district seat against Ken Reed and George Miller when it was discovered that she lives in the 89th district instead. Stiner’s name was able to be removed from the electronic ballot and from the sample ballot that ran in The Morgan Messenger last week, but remained on the printed absentee ballots. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office said local ballot commissioners are able to put a sticker over Stiner’s name on those paper ballots.

Instructions for voting in the Morgan County Board of Education race also had to be edited. Those instructions originally told voters they could only choose one candidate from each district for the school board. Because of the makeup of the board, voters can actually choose up to two candidates from a single district while voting for a total of three candidates for the school board.

School board & levy

There are four candidates seeking three positions on the Board of Education in this non-partisan election.

Aaron Close and Laura Smith, current board members, are seeking re-election. Newcomers Justin Litten and Jonathan Slifer are also running for board seats in the non-partisan election. Board members will be elected in this primary and take office in July.

The non-partisan ballot during this primary election also includes the renewal of the school system’s special levy. Voters will choose whether to renew that local school tax for another four years. It accounts for 17% of the Morgan County Schools budget and pays for added staff, benefits and student support programs that would not be covered by state school taxes.

Local races

A primary race on the Republican ticket will pick Morgan County’s next County Commissioner.

Commission appointee Bill Clark is seeking the Republican nomination for the county seat, with opposition from local car dealer Gary “GW” Easton. There are no Democrats running for County Commission, so the winner of the Republican primary will be unopposed in the general election in November.

County Clerk Kimberly Johnson-Nickles is unopposed on the Republican ballot in her bid to seek a second term in office.

Morgan Circuit Clerk Melanie Shambaugh is also the lone name on the Republican ballot in her party primary, and has no Democratic opposition in the general election. She is seeking her second term of office.

House & State Senate

Republican primary races for two seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates representing this area will be the first time that voters will pick candidates within new district lines.

Delegate Ken Reed (R-Morgan), who currently represents the 59th district, is running against Delegate George Miller (R-Morgan), who currently represents the 58th district. Both men were folded into the newly-drawn 90th district and must face off to see which retains his seat in the House of Delegates. The winner will have no Democratic opponent on the November ballot.

Two Republicans are also facing off to see who will represent the new 89th district, which includes the western portion of Morgan County. Current Delegate Ruth Rowan (R-Hampshire) is being opposed by Republican Darren Thorne in the party primary. No Democrats are seeking that House seat.

Berkeley Springs attorney Charles Trump IV is running opposed on the Republican ticket to keep his seat in the State Senate representing the 15th district, which includes Morgan County. No Democrat is seeking that seat.

2nd Congressional district

The field of candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives will give primary voters here the widest ballot selection of all races.

Five Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination for the Congressional seat representing the 2nd district, which includes Morgan County. Two of those candidates are incumbent Congressmen Alex Mooney and David McKinley, who were thrown together into the same district following state redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census. Joining Mooney and McKinley on the GOP ballot are Susan Lockocki of Morgantown, Rhonda Hercules of Wheeling and Mick Seckman of West Union.

Two Democrats are running for their party’s nomination during the primary – Angela Dwyer of Martinsburg and Barry Lee Wendell or Morgantown.

Winners of each party primary will face off in November during the general election.

Voting at polling precincts throughout the county will take place on Tuesday, May 10.

Read more about candidates in our special Voter Guide in the second section of this issue.