By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
8:33 PM EST, November 13, 2012
The unofficial winner of the Eastern Panhandle’s closest legislative race in last week’s election practically doubled his lead in the contest after a pollworker error was corrected, election officials said Tuesday.
After the correction was made, 148 votes separated Republican Mike Folk from Democrat Donn Marshall in the race for the 63rd District seat in the House of Delegates, according to Berkeley County Deputy County Clerk Bonnie Woodfall.
Folk’s lead over Marshall didn’t change Tuesday after Berkeley County Council, convened as the election canvassing board, allowed the addition of six provisional ballots to the unofficial tallies, according to Woodfall.
Nine absentee ballots cast in the 63rd district have yet to be added to the totals, Woodfall said Tuesday.
Only 74 votes separated the two candidates on election night, according to unofficial results that did not factor the pollworker error, according to Woodfall.
The canvassing board is scheduled to reconvene Thursday to declare the final results of the election, according to Woodfall. Candidates have a 48-hour window to request recounts after canvassing of the vote is completed, according to Woodfall.
The shut down of the county’s iVotronic voting machines for precinct 27 and the collection of votes from the machines was not done properly, according to Woodfall.
The voting machines themselves functioned properly, Woodfall said.
Residents in the precinct, which is one of 11 in the 63rd House district, voted at Faith Baptist Church off Files Cross Road, according to Small’s office.
Excluding the nine absentee ballots that have yet to be added to the vote totals, Folk received 3,094 votes and Marshall received 2,946, according to Woodfall.
A total of 45 absentee ballots have yet to be added to the county’s election results, Woodfall said.
By winning the newly created House district seat, Folk helped narrow the Democratic Party’s majority in the state house to 54-46. Republican Paul Espinosa in Jefferson County also won his race for an open house district seat there.
In one other tight legislative race monitored in election canvassing across the state Tuesday, Kanawha County’s canvass affirmed an even closer victory by Republican John McCuskey over Del. Bobbie Hatfield, according to The Associated Press. The Democrat lost her House of Delegates seat by 41 votes.
According to the unofficial results, more than 37,000 people or about 55 percent of Berkeley County’s registered voters cast ballots in the general election.
Of the total ballots cast, more than 13,000 were straight-party votes, according to unofficial results.
Republican candidates finished with more than a 2,000-vote advantage in straight ticket voting, according to the results.
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