Calhoun County Clerk Richard Kirby said there's lots of new rules for this years
election, but "We're ready to go." Kirby said only 96 people voted "no excuse"
absentee ballots during the past two weeks. Absentee voting ended at 1 p.m.
Kirby said the absentee ballots are sealed until the counting begins Tuesday night. "A
special counting board will process those ballots," he said.
The race, which has four-way interest, is for the seat on the Calhoun Commission,
which pits three men against Harvard graduate Lynn Gilbert, a Grantsville dentist and
member of the Morris political family. The race is predicted to be close between
Gilbert, Rick Sampson, Tom Shock and Steve Whited.
Gilbert has announced she will give her $15,000 commission salary away to "worthy
community projects." She says in a full-page ad in the families Calhoun Chronicle "I
for one am not satisfied with the results of our investment ... I don't condone
spending county money on one or two individuals when the needs of the county are
Current members of the commission have declined a recent $1,500 pay raise
approved by the legislature, which sets salaries. Commissioners have declined
health care benefits for several years to keep costs down.
The three other candidates have responded variously to Gilbert's statement, but none
took ads in The Calhoun Chronicle.
Kirby said all the poll workers are in place, and he was giving them a call to remind
them of their duties at 4 p.m. yesterday. The Calhoun Commission upped the poll
worker allowance to $100, mostly because the interest has declined.
For the first time, teen's sixteen and seventeen could become volunteer poll workers,
a movement to interest young people in voting. There were no volunteers in
Calhoun's optical scanning system was officially tested last week by Kirby and the
Calhoun Commission. During the counting process Tuesday night, special poll
workers from two political parties will oversee the insertion of the ballots and the
operation of the machine.
West Virginia now has 29 counties with optical scanners, which matches paper
ballots to electronic technology. Many voter rights groups believe paper ballots
should still be retained in the voter process. Since critical voter problems surfaced in
Florida, several states have taken a critical look at the voting system.
Members of the West Virginia Legislature made critical redistricting changes, mostly
to protect incumbents. Kanawha County was about to lose one of their three
senators because of population decline. Some of the maneuvering was to allow them
to retain all three. This positioning caused boundaries to be re-drawn on dozens of
In Calhoun, redistricting has occurred directly based on population changes, and
some voters will have to change voting precincts.
Delegates in 16 of the 58 districts will be now be representing all or parts of counties
they have never served, as will be six senators in 17 districts. Calhoun's district now
stretches in snake-like fashion from Chloe to Wheeling Island, which appears to
disrupt geographic closeness.
"We hope a lot of people exercise their voting rights tomorrow," concluded Kirby.