After a year, four votes are counted to flip local election — possibly affecting big development project

With four provisional votes counted after more than a year in limbo, a new council member was named for Harpers Ferry.

Nancy Singleton Case

Nancy Singleton Case, who was just on the outside looking in after a municipal election last year, was sworn in to Town Council on Wednesday night after the four votes were finally counted.

Case, who finished with 85 votes, ousted Charlotte Thompson, who wound up with 84.

“My battle has been for a free and fair election,” Case said on MetroNews’ “Talkline” today. “I am happy.”

The changes on Town Council followed a year of turmoil over the votes, including court challenges that went all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Mac Warner

The situation also drew scrutiny from state officials such as Secretary of State Mac Warner. Warner commented on the resolved local election on Wednesday evening.

“The attempt to control the outcome of the Harpers Ferry municipal election held more than a year ago should be a constant reminder that election manipulation can occur at every level of government.  We must all remain vigilant in our resolve to keep our elections free and fair for all,” he said.

“I’m pleased that the final four votes were counted and I am hopeful that the council and the citizens of Harpers Ferry will now be able to move forward together.”

A special meeting of the Board of Canvassers in Harpers Ferry finally resolved the the June 11, 2019, municipal elections.

Four provisional ballots had been in limbo since then.

Finally counted were the votes of citizens Linda McCarty, George McCarty, Adam Hutton and Leah Howell.

The four citizens registered to vote through the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

Somehow, the residents were registered with addresses on “West” Washington Street, which placed them in neighboring Bolivar, rather than the appropriate Washington Street in Harpers Ferry.

The Harpers Ferry Board of Canvassers first took a look at the ballots and declined to count them. Case and candidate Deborah McGee then appealed to Harpers Ferry Town Council, serving as an election tribunal. That meant two of the incumbents who could have wound up losing their seats heard the appeal.

The Council voted to leave the disputed ballots uncounted, with the town recorder and a councilman dissenting and contending that the situation was being guided by “conflict of interest and political gaming.”

So after all that, Barbara Humes received 91 votes; Jay Premack, 87 votes; Hardwick Johnson, 85 votes; Christian Pechuekonis, 84 votes; Charlotte Thompson, 84 votes; Nancy Singleton Case, 82 votes; Deborah McGee, 81 votes; Marjorie Flynn Yost, 81 votes; and Leah Howell, 15 votes.

McGee, who lost by three votes, and Case, who lost by two votes, challenged the results based on the four provisional ballots.

The state Supreme Court earlier this summer ruled that the votes should be counted. Then a week ago, a circuit judge affirmed that ruling and ordered the count. 

So the Board of Canvassers met again Wednesday evening to open the four ballots and count them.

That’s how Case wound up on council with 85 votes and Thompson wound up off with 84.

McGee remained off council with a revised vote total of 84.

The other final votes included Humes with 92, Premack, with 90 votes, Pechuekonis, with 88 votes and Johnson, with 86 votes.

Both Case and McGeewere viewed as in favor of expediting the Hill Top House project, a longstanding hotel development that has divided the community.

The developers of Hill Top House have said the town of Harpers Ferry hasn’t been a trustworthy partner, in part because the election remained unsettled.

Members of the town’s current governing majority have said they want to see the project go forward under a zoning overlay district established in 2017 — but they contend the developers of the property want to go beyond that.

“I would like to invite them back to engage with the community,” Case said on “Talkline.”

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