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Betterton wins in Upshur County as confusion leaves one race unsettled

By Christina Lane
July 31, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.


GILMER -- Sheriff Anthony Betterton won his re-election bid, meanwhile confusion at one voting location threw Upshur County's runoff election into turmoil, leaving one race unsettled Tuesday night.

Betterton defeated opponent Larry Webb by 25 votes in Tuesday's Republican Party primary runoff election. With no Democratic contenders, Betterton reclaimed the office for four more years with 2,318 votes to Webb's 2,293 votes.

"I would like to thank the citizens of Upshur County for allowing me four more years in office, and for understanding that the past year and a half has been extremely hard on me, my family and the employees of the Upshur County Sheriff's Office," Betterton said. "But I felt confident the voters of Upshur County would stand beside us despite the personal and political attacks on myself and the employees of the Upshur County Sheriff's Office."

With nine provisional ballots still to be counted, Webb said he was uncertain whether he would call for a recount.

"It was a good race," Webb said. "What it tells me is that Upshur County is ready for it. I'll just have to work a little bit more, work a little harder. Twenty-five votes is close."

Meanwhile, Pct. 1 Commissioner James Crittenden losing to opponent Paula Gentry, 479 votes to 798 votes. Gentry had 62.49 percent of the votes at.

Crittenden said he intends to contest his election results regardless of the final outcome because he is aware of some voters who received incorrect ballots while voting at the Rock Building in Gilmer.

"I will be doing what I think is right," said Crittenden, who has served on the court for seven and a half years.

Crittenden was made aware of the situation before going to the Upshur County Courthouse Tuesday evening to await results when a neighbor asked him, "Did you hear the bad news?"

Crittenden said the neighbor told him that he and his wife went to vote at the Rock Building, located on U.S. 271 in Gilmer, and were given a ballot that did not have the Pct. 1 commissioner race listed on it.

"I was later made aware that there were a few others who were given the wrong ballot," Crittenden said.

The commissioner said he believed the confusion lay in congressional redistricting that caused some voters in the county to be in one district while others were in another district.

"I'm quite upset," Crittenden said.

He blamed the election judge at the Rock Building, saying the judge should have been aware of what was occurring.

County Judge Dean Fowler said election code would require Crittenden to file a lawsuit contesting the election in district court. Fowler said it is likely that Crittenden could need enough affidavits to show that the ballots could have affected the election's outcome. A district judge would have to order another election.

Crittenden said he intends to consult with District Attorney Billy Byrd Wednesday morning and will file a lawsuit in the county's 115th District Court following that discussion. Crittenden said regardless of the final totals he will still contest the election because he is only aware of voters who were given incorrect paper ballots.

"We don't know how many people voted electronically and were given the wrong ballot, and who might not have realized or didn't tell the election judge," he said.

Gentry said she had no comment, per her attorney's advice.

"This is totally unnecessary," Crittenden said. "One of the bad parts about this is the cost to voters to extend this election and have another election. It's totally uncalled for. It looks like this contested race will continue."

Sheriff

Anthony Betterton: 2,318 votes, 50.27%

Larry Webb: 2,293 votes, 49.73%

Pct. 1 Commissioner

James Crittenden: 479 votes, 37.51%

Paula Gentry: 798 votes, 62.49%

Pct. 3 Constable

Stanley Jenkins: 609 votes, 56.76%

John Cannon Jr.: 464 votes, 43.24%

GOP Chairman

Cynthia Ridgeway: 2,430 votes, 59.57%

Chuck Mears: 1,649 votes, 40.43%

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