Vote Canvass Shows Bus Levy Still a Loser

A bus service tax levy may have gained some ground after Friday’s vote canvass, but not enough for its approval.

According to the unofficial May 11 tally, 309 Glen Dale voters opposed the levy and 306 voted in favor of it. However, a supermajority, or 60 percent of the total vote plus one, was actually needed for the Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority levy to pass.

On Monday, Marshall County Clerk Jan Pest said Friday’s official count revealed 310 people were in favor of the levy and 309 were against it. But because it was an excess levy, at least 370 votes were needed to pass the measure, instead of a simple majority.

Pest attributed the change in vote totals to the inclusion of absentee ballots. Also included in the official count were online ballots submitted by military members and others overseas via a pilot project started by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. Marshall County was one of five West Virginia counties that participated in the online voting project. Other counties included Monongalia, Wood, Kanawha and Jackson.

“Fifteen applied and 12 actually voted,” Pest said, noting that was the highest number of online voters for any county in the pilot project. “With the military, it’s important to make (voting) as available as possible to them.”

Pest noted the online voting was conducted via a secure website provided by an outside vendor. However, only three county officials had access to the final votes, including Pest, the county prosecutor and county commission president.

She believes online voting proved to be more reliable than regular absentee voting done by mail. For example, if an absentee ballot arrives after the canvass day, it cannot be counted, she said.

“This way, they’re counted on the spot,” Pest said of online votes.

If Glen Dale’s bus levy had been approved, it would have provided funding to continue and expand OVRTA service through the city.

The run, at no cost to taxpayers, currently only stops at Reynolds Memorial Hospital. But it continues on to Moundsville, where voters may get to vote on a similar excess levy during the Nov. 2 general election. During a future meeting, OVRTA board members are expected to decide whether to stop the Glen Dale run since the levy was voted down.