Board rules in ballot challenge

ST. CLAIRSVILLE The Board of Elections held a special meeting yesterday to review a challenge at the polls during the recent election.

Dan Brown came before the board and alleged that that Lou Ann Bennett, Presiding Judge at Precinct One, West Bellaire Community Center, attempted to interfere with him voting. Brown speculated that Bennett was motivated by personal animosity toward him. He also inquired if he might be moved to a new voting site.

Bennett said there was no attempt to prevent Brown from voting. She said she contacted Director William Shubat and filled out a challenge to Brown’s ballot on the grounds that she did not believe he was a Bellaire resident. Brown was given a provisional ballot. She said Brown was uncooperative and proceeded to cause a disruption at the voting site.

“It was utter chaos,” Bennett said.

Board Member Frankie Lee Carnes said that the documentation Brown provided showed that his Bellaire ballot was valid and the vote would be counted.

“It is our duty to make sure that every voter in the county, the way he cast his vote is the way we count it,” she said. “I personally as a board member since 1995 apologize for whatever duress you were put under during Election Day.”

Brown was also advised that he had the option of voting absentee or at the board office.

In addition, Carnes noted a report from the secretary of state informing them that a provisional ballot policy must be set under which the board may designate bipartisan teams to provision and categorize provisional ballot envelopes. Only the board members determine the validity of a provisional ballot. The ballots may then be counted. Shubat and Deputy Director Kelly McCabe were assigned to that role.

The official election results will be released March 23, 11 a.m.

The next general election is set for Nov. 6 with the official count 20 days later, Nov. 26.

DeFrank can be reached at