Judge orders missing Fairmont City Council votes to be counted

Politics

After the November election, there were ties in both the 1st and 5th districts of the Fairmont City Council race.

The tie in the 1st district between Marcella Yaremchuk and Josh Rice was decided by a coin flip, with Yaremchuk winning the seat.

Vote canvassing showed that Barry Bledsoe had defeated Houston Richardson by one vote.  Richardson then requested a recount, which showed the race ended in a tie.  Richardson then won by casting lots.

Since then, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office noticed 57 uncounted ballots.

The investigation, which the Marion County Clerks office cooperated with, showed that the shut-down process for a voting machine was interrupted.  The missing votes are still in the machine, on a paper trail and on a flash card.

Investigators believe that there was no fraud involved, that it was human error.

The Secretary of State’s office filed a writ of mandamus in Marion County Circuit Court to have the missing ballots counted as a part of the election.

At a hearing Wednesday, Marion County Circuit Judge Patrick Wilson granted the writ.  Wilson ordered that once the writ is signed, the Fairmont canvassing board will have five days to count the 57 votes.

Wilson also ordered that the current city council members remain in place until the vote count is re-certified.

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