Pictured counterclockwise from right, Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith, commissioner Kristie Tenney, assistant county administrator Tabatha Perry, commissioner Sam Nolte and commission president Terry Cutright tabulate provisionary ballots from the June 9 City of Buckhannon election.

CJ Rylands wins third Buckhannon City Council seat by six votes

BUCKHANNON – Incumbent city councilman CJ Rylands will retain his seat on Buckhannon City Council for another four-year term.

The canvassing board for the June 9 city election determined Monday that Rylands was the third top vote-getter in the municipal election, edging challenger Shelia Sines by just six votes, 437-431. On Election Night, Rylands and Sines tied at 423 votes for the third top vote-getter’s slot behind top vote-getter Jack Reger and second highest vote-getter incumbent Pamela Cuppari Bucklew.

When reached for comment Monday, Rylands said he’s glad the election is over.

“I’m glad the process is over,” he said. “We’ll get back to doing the business at hand by striving to be a safe, affordable and welcoming community that makes a point to include everyone who wants to participate.”

The canvassing board is comprised of Upshur County Commissioners Terry Cutright, Sam Nolte and Kristie Tenney.

To break the tie, Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith, the canvassing board and assistant Upshur County Administrator Tabatha Perry verified that 24 absentee-by-mail ballots had been postmarked by June 9, 2020 as is required – but had arrived in the County Clerk’s office after Election Day. After adding those to the total, Rylands led by nine with no provisional ballots counted.

Then, the canvassing board found that of the 15 provisional ballots cast in the city election, eight of them could be counted. A ballot can be marked provisional for a number of reasons. For example, a person may have moved to a different address within the county and voted in a new precinct; if that precinct is the correct one, the ballot can be counted.

Several absentee-by-mail ballots were labeled provisional because the voter requested an absentee-by-mail ballot, but then voted in person without bringing back the absentee ballot that had been mailed to them. In those cases when only one ballot is cast (i.e. for instance, if the voter just threw away their absentee-by-mail ballot), then the ballot is ruled legitimate.

The canvassing board opted not to count provisional ballots in instances where the voter had not provided ID or had failed to sign their mail-in ballot.

Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith said the canvassing board tabulated a total of 59 provisional ballots. Once the results are hand-counted and winners are declared, Sines or any other candidate has a 48-hour window within which to request a recount. Recounts require a $300 deposit.

If no recount is requested before the 48-hour period expires, the commissioners may certify any results that aren’t state-level offices.

At the conclusion of Monday’s canvassing process, Jack Reger remained the top vote-getter with 540 votes, followed by incumbent Pamela Cuppari Bucklew with 528 votes and Rylands with 437 votes. Sines came in fourth with 431, beating other contenders, including Scott Preston (391 votes), Shauna Jones (369 votes), Steve Oldaker (252 votes), Matt Kerner (246 votes), Freddy Suder (168 votes) and Rick Edwards (100 votes).

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