Recount: Miller Wins

MOUNDSVILLE – A recount conducted Tuesday confirmed that Republican Robert Miller Jr. defeated Democrat incumbent Marshall County Commissioner Jason “Jake” Padlow in the Nov. 6 election.

Commissioner Brian Schambach said Miller received 6,277 votes, while Padlow earned 6,192 – giving Miller an 85-vote victory.

The recount increased Miller’s margin of victory by 15 votes over the lead he held prior to Tuesday’s proceedings. A vote canvass conducted Nov. 13-14 indicated Padlow had lost his seat by 70 votes, or 0.56 percent of the total 12,366 ballots cast.

Controversy erupted a few days after the election, when County Clerk Jan Pest notified Padlow and other county officials that results released on election night were incorrect, due to human error. Those unofficial results showed Padlow winning by 61 votes.

But Pest said 2,912 early and absentee votes had been overlooked that evening. When the error was corrected, the new result showed Miller leading by 80 votes.

Schambach pointed out that all election night totals are considered unofficial. The canvass is held to certify the vote. He said the recount is official and certified.

Padlow, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, requested the recount and has questioned whether proper procedures were followed after the error was discovered.

“I think that the integrity of the system has been violated by two people thinking they can go into the system and start running and retabulating ballots without any ballot commissioners there, without any county commissioners there and without anybody from the prosecutor’s office there,” Padlow said upon learning the error had occurred. “The system has been compromised by somebody going into that office and breaking a seal on a bag without any presence of any election official there. The whole election probably should be thrown out.”

Padlow stressed that nine tests of the voting machines had been conducted prior to the election and that all three county commissioners, the prosecutor and two ballot commissioners had been present for those tests. On the Saturday after the election when the tally changed, however, Padlow said only Pest and Deputy Clerk Winnie Reilly were present.

Pest believes Padlow will challenge the results of the election in court. She said he has 10 days to file a challenge.

Padlow’s attorney, Dan Guida of Weirton, also could not be reached for comment. Commissioner Don Mason said neither Padlow nor Guida were present for the recount.

Schambach said the recount process – including a hand count of two randomly selected precincts conducted by two eight-member teams, each comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans – went smoothly Tuesday. The hand count was followed by a computer recount of the entire race. In all, the process took about six hours to complete.

Miller did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment on his victory.