CHARLESTON -- The attorney in the Lincoln County Primary Election controversy said there were more than enough county and state officials who could have stopped the situation before it ever would have had a chance to impact the May primary election votes.
Harvey Peyton is the attorney that represented candidates Phoebe Harless and Charles Brumfield in their official contesting of the election results. Raleigh Circuit Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick threw out more than 300 "questionable" absentee ballots, which gave Brumfield the Primary Election victory.
Harless lost her appeal after the judge determined she was not a qualified candidate.
Peyton said he learned a lot about Lincoln County politics during his investigation of the last few months. He said some statewide politicians will not do anything about the organization in place there because they want the votes.
Everyone knows the faction is Lincoln County Democratic Committee, a political action committee, Peyton said.
During his radio show in Charleston on Aug. 19, Peyton was critical of Gov. Joe Manchin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
"They put up with it because they want their votes," he said.
Peyton said that what bothers him the most is that the elections are treated like a game in Lincoln County.
"This couldn't have happened had any number of people along the food chain that had the responsibility to do their jobs had done their jobs," Peyton said.
The Lincoln County Clerk should have known something was wrong when there were more than 800 absentee ballot applications when the previous high was about 200, Peyton said.
Peyton also said Tennant's office should have gone to Lincoln County before the election to review the applications and Manchin could have sent state troopers to look at a questionable ballot box on the day of the election.
"Mediocrity is just what we accept," Peyton said. "Mediocrity and denial of responsibility is what we've accepted for too long."
When it is all said and done, it is citizens like Brumfield and Harless who have to suffer, Peyton said.
Tennant recently said she is willing to review the absentee ballot application process with Kirkpatrick and the legislature.