A lot of Pocahontas County voters have expressed confusion about how this year’s Board of Education election will work, as we have five candidates from the Southern District of the county; one candidate from the Central District; and one candidate from the Northern District; on the ballot.
Since board members run as non-partisan – not running as members of any political party – the May 10 Primary Election will determine the winners in the Board of Education race, and they will take their seats at the first board meeting in July.
State law says that there must be at least one board member from each of the three county districts, however there cannot be more than two candidates seated on the board from any one district. That means, two of the districts will have two members from their districts serving on the board, and the remaining district will be represented by only one board member.
What is tricky is that all voters, regardless of the district they live in, can vote for candidates who are – or are not – from the voter’s own district, if they so choose to do so.
The current board is made up of two members who live in the Southern District, two members who live in the Central District, and one member who lives in the Northern District.
Two of the current five members were not up for re-election this year, and will remain on the new board. Those are one member from the Northern District and one member from the Central District. Two of the current members are running for re-election and are from the Southern District, while the third position up for election this year is in the Central District. Current board member John Burns chose not to run for re-election.
Voters will be asked to vote for up to three of the seven candidates on the ballot, with five of those candidates living in the Southern District, and one each from the Central and Northern District. Therefore, at most, only two of those five Southern District candidates are allowed to win.
If the top three candidates receiving votes are all from the Southern District, the candidate from either the Central or Northern District who receives the most votes would win the third seat on the board.
If, on the other hand, only one of the five Southern District candidates is among the top three vote getters, only that one member will be seated from the Southern District, and both the Central and Northern District candidates will win seats. If that would be the case, the new board would consist of two members from the Northern, two from the Central Districts and one from the Southern.
So remember, your third-choice vote could theoretically send your first or second choice candidate to defeat. It is a strange type of election, but required to be so by state election law.
In other election news:
Last Friday, members of the County Clerk’s Office tested the voting machines which will be used in the Primary election. They are made by Election Systems and Software, a company out of Omaha Nebraska, and the machines do not contain modems. They are not connected to the Internet during any of the election processes.
Blank ballots, write-in votes, and over votes in both parties were used to test the machines.
The machines will not allow over votes. County Clerk Missy Bennett explained that the voter has two opportunities to correct errors on their ballots. The voter can review their ballot before the machine prints it and, even after it is printed, they can have a poll worker “spoil” it so they can revote. For write-in candidates to have their votes counted, the candidate must have pre-registered with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office in advance of the election.
Reminder: There will be a “Meet the Candidates” at the Durbin Library Friday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. for County Commission and BOE candidates.
A live, on-air candidate forum will be broadcast on Allegheny Mountain Radio for the BOE candidates at 6:30 p.m. at the WVMR studios Wednesday, May 4.