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State law unclear on who should canvass Kanawha levy vote

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State law is unclear about whether the Kanawha County Commission or the Kanawha County school board is required to canvass the results of November's excess school levy vote. so officials in the Secretary of State's Office told them both to do it.

On Nov. 9, Kanawha County voters will be asked to approve a $24 million excess school levy that includes $3 million a year for the Kanawha County library system and removes the cap placed on the excess levy approved by voters last year.

County Commission President Kent Carper wasn't sure who was supposed to conduct the official vote canvass for the election, which is being run by the county Board of Education. The County Commission is responsible for canvassing results in county-run elections, but Carper said the law is unclear on who should canvass school board elections.

In August, Carper wrote to Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, asking who is ultimately responsible for the vote canvass.

Secretary of State's Office attorney Timothy Leach responded Sept. 18, saying he wasn't sure.

"As you noted, code and case holdings about who conducts the canvass are 'ambiguous,'" Leach wrote. He said the few court cases dealing with non-county elections provide conflicting information.

Leach said school board officials and the County Commission should both conduct the vote canvass and that county officials should provide the expertise.

"We recommend that the [county] commission and the [county] clerk, being much more experienced in the business of conducting elections, serve as a resource for the Board of Education," Leach wrote.

He said it is up to school board officials to find, train and pay election workers, provide election supplies and publish election notices. However, he said school officials might need help from the county to put on the election.

Carper said county officials will go along with Leach's recommendations, but that he isn't happy a more definitive answer isn't available.

"This law needs to be corrected," Carper said.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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