They came, they saw, they voted. With more than a 47 percent voter turnout, an anomaly for a non-presidential election, West Virginians made their voices heard on Election Day.
With a large number of early voters, including 4,109 in Greenbrier County alone, Secretary of State Mac Warner said, “Numbers significantly exceed that of the 2002 through 2014 General Elections.”
The preliminary results from the election have been released, however, votes are unofficial until after the canvass on Nov. 13. Positions on the ballot included U.S. Senator, U.S. House of Representatives, State Senator, House of Delegates, Sheriff, County Commissioner, Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court, and two proposed constitutional amendments.
On a local level, Tammy Shifflett-Tincher (D) held a sound victory over write-in candidate Woody Hanna (R), who had switched parties earlier this year in order to run a write-in campaign. Shifflett-Tincher will join Lowell Rose (R) and Mike McClung (R) on the commission board. Her platform was based strongly around making sure to represent the western end of the county fairly, as she is from Rainelle.
Bruce Sloan (D) will remain sheriff of Greenbrier County after scoring 8,999 votes compared to his opponent Mark Robinson’s (R) 2,905. Robinson is still incarcerated in Middle River Regional Jail in Augusta County, VA, without bond, after allegedly violating a protective order.
Joseph Manchin (D) won the U.S. Senator position against Patrick Morrisey (R) by a slim margin of 49.55 percent of the vote statewide, and over 50 percent of the vote in Greenbrier County. For the U.S. House of Representatives, Carol Miller (R) took a surprising victory over Richard Ojeda (D) with a strong 56.41 percent of the vote across the state. Ojeda gained national attention with his no-nonsense attitude and aggressive platform, and was featured in Michael Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 11/9.
Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins won positions as justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court, even though locally Robert Frank won the majority vote. Stephen Baldwin (D) held a solid win over George “Boogie” Ambler (R) for the State Senate by receiving 58 percent of the vote in Greenbrier County and 54 percent in Fayette County. In Summers and Monroe Counties he trailed behind Ambler, but won overall with a total of 17,392 votes to Ambler’s 15,315.
The House of Delegates race was a close one against Jeff Campbell (D), Cindy Lavender-Bowe (D), Denny Canterbury (R), and Steve Malcomb (R). The 10th district covers Greenbrier, Monroe, and Summers Counties. Campbell took the lead in both Greenbrier and Summers, but trailed behind Canterbury in Monroe. The total numbers were Campbell, 6,383, and Lavender-Bowe, 5,746. The Democratic Party now has a house majority after a substantial number of Republican seats were upturned in the “blue wave” across the nation. Republicans still maintain majority control of the Senate.
Amendment One, otherwise known as the “no constitutional right to an abortion” amendment, was a hot topic on both sides of the fence this election season. According to Ballotpedia.com, for West Virginia Amendment 1, a ‘yes’ vote supports this amendment to add language to the West Virginia Constitution stating that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” A ‘no’ vote opposes this amendment to add language to the West Virginia Constitution stating that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
Fifteen Republican state legislators sponsored this amendment in the legislature. On February 9, 2018, the state Senate voted 25-9 to pass the amendment. All 22 Republican senators voted yes on the amendment. Of the 12 Democratic senators, three voted yes on the amendment and nine voted no.
On February 8, 2018, the Republican-majority Senate rejected changes to the amendment to make exceptions for abortion in cases of rape or incest, or if determined necessary to save the life of the mother. The exceptions were proposed by Senator Corey Palumbo.
In the state House, 67 delegates needed to vote for the amendment to put the measure before voters in November 2018. Republicans held a 64-36 majority at the time of the vote on March 5, 2018. The amendment was approved 73-25 with two members not voting. A total of 63 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted for the amendment. Twenty-five Democrats opposed the amendment. (Source: ballotpedia.com)
Ultimately, there were 295,536 votes across the state in favor of the amendment. This added language doesn’t make abortion illegal within the state, as some sources claim, but instead means that Medicaid will no longer cover abortion procedures. It also means that if on a federal level Roe v. Wade is overturned, there are no state protections in place.
Amendment Two, which would authorize the legislature to regulate the budget of the West Virginia Supreme Court, passed with a strong 72.35 percent. The success of this amendment is largely due to the “couchgate” scandal earlier this year, which revealed that West Virginia Supreme Court justices were spending exorbitant amounts of state money on office renovations and furniture, including a non-infamous $32,000 couch. With this amendment, the legislature will oversee the state’s judiciary budget, as is standard in all other states.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the operation and management of the General Election,” Warner said. “The state’s clerks and their staff were prepared. Our team at the Capitol was prepared. The candidates, political parties and interest groups succeeded in getting their messages and platforms to the general public. West Virginia had a great midterm election.”
The public can view the totals at the following link, https://results.enr.clarityelections.com/WV/92360/Web02-state.216038/#/.