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Districts With Close W.Va. House Races Still Have Hundreds Of Outstanding Absentee Ballots

West Virginia Legislative Photography

Although most results Tuesday night showed clear winners in the West Virginia House of Delegates, a handful of races remain close.

In counties where several hundred outstanding absentee ballots could still arrive and be counted by Monday, some Election Day outcomes could change.

In Monongalia County’s five-member 51st District, Democrat John Williams made the cut-off with only 25 votes over Republican Cindy Frich Tuesday night.

According to the Monongalia county clerk, the office still had 968 outstanding absentee ballots on Tuesday. As long as those ballots are postmarked and received by Monday, Nov. 9, they will count.

New results will be available on the county clerk’s website after canvassing is completed next week.

“I’m interested to see how the remaining ballots turn out,” said Frich, who has served about five terms in the state House, between 2002 and 2018. She lost in a run for the West Virginia Senate in 2010.

“It’s always been difficult for the Republicans to get elected here,” Frich said. With Republicans taking a “supermajority” in the House and Senate, Frich said “[Monongalia] County doesn’t have much of a seat at the table.”

While all members of the 51st District were Democrats in the latest session, Republican candidate Joe Statler appeared to have secured a seat Tuesday night.

In Jefferson County’s 65th District, incumbent Sammi Brown, a Democrat, was 169 votes behind her Republican opponent, Wayne Clark.

Hours after posting that she conceded on social media, Brown says she learned that there were still 240 outstanding absentee ballots in her district. She's now waiting for all of the ballots to be counted before making any new calls.

“We have citizens that have participated and done their civic duty, and they have not been heard yet,” Brown said. “This is very much in line with making sure every vote is counted. That said, when we will we will absolutely accept the outcome, after the votes are counted.”

In the 16th District, encompassing parts of Cabell and Lincoln counties, Republican Mark Bates is 68 votes behind other Republican John Mandt Jr.

Mandt resigned from the House of Delegates about a month before Election Day, after images from a private group chat circulated social media, showing that Mandt made offensive anti-gay and Islamaphobic remarks.

Mandt has told local media that if re-elected, he will serve.

Emily Allen is a Report for America corps member.

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