Logan judge challenges election loss, asks for recount

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 9, 2016

LOGAN – A Logan circuit judge who lost in the May 10 primary is asking a three-judge panel for a recount and for him to be declared winner in the election.

William Douglas Witten claims voters were wrongly influenced by an attack on state Senate candidate Richard Ojeda days before the election and he filed a petition June 6 to overturn the results. In the primary, Witten lost to Joshua Butcher by 59 votes.

Witten argues that he was associated with a political faction opposite Ojeda and that publicity that accompanied Ojeda's attack not only defeated Art Kirkendoll, who ran against Ojeda, but those associated with the senator suffered the loss of election votes as well.

Witten claims that he would have been elected if not for the "dissemination of materially false information regarding an allegedly politically motivated assault on a candidate for the Democrat nomination for West Virginia State Senate, which information was deliberately and falsely disseminated, published throughout Logan County for the purpose of influencing the opinion of county voters in a manner contrary to a candidate named Art Kirkendoll, a man with whom William Douglas Witten was identified as" Witten's fellow supported candidate.

The judge also claims that certain precincts should be discounted, such as Precint One (Bulwark) because ten more votes were counted in the precinct than voters who signed the poll book.

Witten also alleges that Precinct Two (Striker) had “election irregularities,” but he did not list what they were.

The petition also alleges election violations in three other precincts.

In his petition, Witten asks for a special court to consider his contest. It cites a seldom-used section of West Virginia Code.

As part of the procedure, the petition will be ruled on by a panel of three people—one of which is chosen by Witten, one by Butcher and the third by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

If the votes that Witten asks to be discounted, the final vote would end up in his favor with 4,351 to 4,330.

Tomblin appointed Witten to the vacancy created when longtime judge Roger Perry retired.

Witten is represented by Harvey D. Peyton of Peyton Law Firm.

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