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Swope challenges election results in Mingo County

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Swope challenges election results in Mingo County

Jun 05, 2024 | 6:03 pm ET
By Lori Kersey
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Swope challenges election results in Mingo County
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Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, appears during an August 2023 meeting of the interim committee on flooding, which he chairs. Swope, who lost his seat during the May primary election, has filed a challenge to the election results in Mingo County. (Perry Bennett | West Virginia Legislative Photography)

A West Virginia state senator who lost his seat in last month’s primary election has filed a challenge to the election results.

Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, filed the challenge with the Mingo County Commission. In a notice filed Wednesday, Swope said he intends to challenge all votes cast in seven precincts and wants to examine poll books across the county and reserves the right to amend the challenge to include additional precincts if irregularities are found. 

According to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, Swope’s opponent, Craig Hart, won 75% or 2,152 votes in Mingo County, while Swope captured 364 and former state Delegate Eric Porterfield had 344. 

Statewide, Hart won the election with 4,847 votes amounting to about 40%, while Swope had 4,384 votes, or approximately 37%. Porterfield had 2,633 or 22% of the votes. 

Swope’s challenge includes four affidavits and an unsworn letter from Mingo County voters alleging irregularities with the primary election. One said he, a registered Democrat, was allowed to vote in the Republican primary, another Democrat voter said they received a ballot that listed Republican candidates for county assessor and commissioner. 

Two other independent voters alleged a poll worker watched them vote, not allowing privacy. In another, the voter alleges they were given a choice of which primary to vote in, despite being a member of a party. 

“Based on information and belief, these do not appear to have been isolated incidents,” the challenge reads. “In fact, voter turnout numbers across Mingo County suggest county-wide discrepancies that potentially affect every precinct in the county.” 

Swope is retired from the construction industry and was first elected in 2016, He was one of four incumbent state senators to lose their seat during the primary election. 

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, 5,072 or about 30% of Mingo County voters turned out for the primary election, compared with 30% of registered voters statewide. 

Mingo County reported that 3,554 votes were cast in the Republican primary, for a voter turnout of about 69%, according to the complaint. In the Democratic primary, 1,440 votes were cast, for a turnout of 19%, the complaint says. 

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Swope said the election challenge is not about hard feelings over the election results, but ensuring fair elections. 

“I feel that there was enough suspicion to justify followup,” Swope said. “It’s not that I’m sour grapes over the election, but win or lose you want fair elections. Everyone wants fair elections, and that’s my motivation.”