HUNTINGTON — Despite significant changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials finished the canvassing process of the June 9 primary election Monday evening at the Cabell County Courthouse.
Of 57,099 registered voters in Cabell County, 20,514 total ballots were cast in the election, or about 35.93%, according to records from the Cabell County Clerk’s Office.
Because of virus concerns, all voters had the option to request an absentee ballot — and after the canvassing process wrapped up, records showed that over half of those who voted in the county did so by mail.
Absentee ballots postmarked June 9 that were received by Monday were counted during canvassing and totaled 983 ballots.
Ballots received by mail prior to Primary Election Day totaled 10,096, and 8,107 residents voted in person at the polls June 9, while 1,328 cast their ballots during early voting.
Aside from counting and reviewing absentee ballots and auditing ballots at three precincts Monday, at least several hundred provisional ballots were reviewed by county commissioners and two ballot commissioners.
“We were very adamant that every vote should count. We think that’s very important, but at the same time we have to follow law,” County Commissioner Kelli Sobonya said.
A voter’s ballot can become provisional for a number of reasons in West Virginia, such as a lack of registration records at the time of voting or an issue with the voter’s signature, among others.
“It could be that they moved and they didn’t change their voter registration by the deadline, and so they were in the wrong precinct,” Sobonya said. “We went through them one by one and we tried to determine those issues. We actually had to reject some people that came from Wayne County to Cabell County to vote.”
The official number of provisional ballots rejected has not been recorded, according to county election officials, but will be available following the 48-hour waiting period for any candidate to request a recount.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the clerk’s office had not received any of these requests, and the election will be certified by the County Commission at a later date after the window for recounts has ended.
Although concerns about voter fraud caused by the surge in absentee ballots has been one issue election officials faced, Sobonya said she believes the use of strict protocol in the counting process helped settle those fears.
“There are a lot of safeguards in place, and seeing the process firsthand, I feel like it was a very open process and the integrity of the ballots was well protected,” she said. “I personally voted at my own precinct, but I think that these are very challenging times and they changed the way people voted. But I still personally don’t favor mail-in ballots.”
County Clerk Phyllis Smith said Monday that about 500 to 1,000 absentee ballots are typically cast in any given election, about the same amount as the amount counted solely Monday.