FAIRMONT — The Marion County Clerk’s office will conduct recounts of two local races from the Nov. 3 general election, according to Marion County Clerk Julie Kincaid.
Republican Joe Carpenter has requested a recount of the race for the Marion County Sheriff against incumbent Jimmy Riffle, a Democrat. The second recount was requested by Republican Karl “David” Kennedy in the race against Democrat Linda Longstreth for Marion County Commission. In the sheriff’s race, Riffle received 12,748 votes against Carpenter’s 12,538, and the race for County Commission Longstreth received 12,911 votes compared to Kennedy’s 11,633.
Carpenter said he has requested a recount as somewhat of a thanks to the people who supported him, seeing that the race was within a few hundred votes.
“I had some people tell me that I should have a recount,” Carpenter said. “The only reason why is because of the people who supported me, I just want to make sure everything is good.”
Kennedy could not be reached for comment, but Longstreth said she respects the ability for anyone to request a recount in a political race.
“Anyone is allowed to have a recount, I worked too long in Charleston to know that if anyone wants a recount of the votes, they are allowed,” Longstreth said. “I will be along for it, and we will see. I don’t think the recount will show anything big, but again, people can request a recount if they chose, no matter how close or how distant the vote count is.”
Riffle, too, said he respects his opponent’s decision to ask for a recount in the race.
“It’s certainly his right to ask for a recount,” Riffle said. “I trust in the election process, I think the county clerk does a very good job of counting votes, and I don’t think the recount is going to do anything to substantially change the outcome.”
Marion County Clerk Julie Kincaid said both Carpenter and Kennedy have posted bond to commence a recount of their races, which could be a lengthy process. The staff of the County Clerk’s office needs to count each vote in each race by hand, to ensure every vote cast was counted correctly.
“What a recount consists of is all materials must be counted in every precinct by hand,” Kincaid said. “All the paper rolls that came out of the machines all throughout the election, which that includes early voting and election day, those have to be pulled for those particular races that are being recounted.
“It is a bit of a lengthy process.”
Kincaid said the bond paid for the recount pays staff to perform the counting of ballots, and once the count is completed or stopped by a candidate, the money goes into the county fund.
“It does take a great deal of time, and it can result in it being quite costly,” Kincaid said. “They have to pay a bond to our office... It becomes county funds; the money is for staffing costs, but they’re not paying daily, they’re not responsible for paying until the recount is over or when they call they would like to stop it.”
Although this process can be tedious for those counting the votes, Kincaid said it is the duty of the county clerk to honor requests like this, to ensure a candidate and the public that the democratic process is being followed. Kincaid said the last recount her office performed was in 2016.
“We did have one in ‘16, and it does take a great deal of time,” Kincaid said. “We are very thorough in all of our election reporting, so that is one thing we’re thankful for is we have all of our materials organized and everything ready so it will just be up to the counting boards to go through the paper rolls and make sure that everything matches.”
Kincaid said there may be slight changes in the number of votes for each candidate, but these are normally not substantial amounts, because of the process the office goes through on election day itself. However, Kincaid said she and her staff are up to the task, to ensure the accuracy of the election results.
“It is within a candidate’s rights to request a recount and we are more than happy to oblige them,” Kincaid said. “We take great pride in the accuracy of our results and are always prepared to do a recount.”
Riffle is completing his first term of sheriff having been elected in 2016 when then- Sheriff Joe Carpenter was term-limited under West Virginia law. Kennedy, a current member of the Fairmont City Council, and Longstreth, who served for 16 years as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, were the top vote recipients from the June primary.
This story has been updated