Voter turnout was 30 percent in Mercer: Fewer showed up at the polls than expected


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Voting machines were going back into storage Wednesday after almost 30% of Mercer County's voters went to the polls to cast their ballots on everything from a seat on the county commission to judgeships and whether a school levy would be renewed.

Mercer County has 37,270 registered voters. County Clerk Verlin Moye said Wednesday around a third of them went to the polls Tuesday.

"Well, after it was all said and done, the numbers were lower than I initially thought," Moye said. "We're right at about 30% turnout. I thought it would be in the mid-30s, but the line were consistent and there was steady voting all day. Anyway, everything went remarkably well and support staff did exceptionally well as usual. The public seemed to like our new voting machines. We had the unofficial results in, I think 9:30 (p.m.), somewhere around that, so it was a good election. Now we're looking to the General Election."

Some elections on the county's ballot decided who would serve in local offices while others chose which candidates will be on the ballot when the General Election arrives this November. All of the election results recorded Tuesday evening at the Mercer County Courthouse will remain unofficial until they are canvassed on May 20 at 9 a.m., Moye said.

Races on the county's ballot included one for the District 2 seat on the Mercer County Commission. This seat became open when Commissioner Gene Buckner decided not to run for reelection.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed candidates for the District 2 seat with the following number of votes: Brian Blankenship had 2,486 votes; Carl Calfee 1,510 votes; Stephanie Dempsey had 1,225 votes; Jeremiah Nelson had 752; Karen Champion Pendleton had 698 votes.

In another Mercer County race, Paul Hodges ran in the non-partisan Division 3 Mercer County Board of Education race. Jim Bailey ran for Division 1 on the board of education. Hodges received 5,420 votes and Bailey had 6,447 votes. There were 10 write-in votes.

Alan Christian, who filed as a Republican to run for sheriff of Mercer County, ran unopposed. Christian received 6,042 votes. There was no Democratic candidate.

Incumbent Republican Prosecuting Attorney Brian Cochran, also ran unopposed. Cochran received 6,102 votes. No Democrats filed to run.

In the race for county assessor, Republican Tommy Bailey received 4,797 votes and incumbent Republican assessor Lyle Cottle received 2,247.

Six candidates ran in the non-partisan magistrate race.

Incumbent Magistrate William Holroyd ran against candidates Alvin Marchant and Sandra Dorsey for Division 5 on the magistrate court. Holroyd received 4,327 votes. Dorsey received 3,896 votes. Marchant received 1,229 votes. There were 10 write-in votes.

Incumbent Magistrates Mike Crowder (Division 4) received 8,134 votes. Keith Compton (Division 3) received 8,122 votes. Mike Flanigan (Division 1) received 8,797 votes and Susan Honaker (Division 2) received 8,421 votes.

Incumbent Circuit Court Judges William J. Sadler (Division 2) and Mark Wills (Division 3) ran for re-election in the nonpartisan Judicial Circuit 13. Sadler received 9,052 votes and Wills received 9,118 votes.

In Division 1 of the 13th Judicial Circuit race, the candidates were Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger, attorney Derrick Lefler and attorney Ryan Flanigan. The judgeship became vacant when Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope retired on Dec. 31, 2023.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed Flanigan with 4,119 votes, Harshbarger with 3,403 votes and Lefler with 2,614 votes.

Several candidates ran for the nonpartisan 12th Family Court, Division 2, which serves both Mercer County and McDowell County.

Angela Walters, who was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice in November 2023, ran to retain the judgeship. Cathy Wallace also ran for the 12th Circuit Family Court, Division 2 along with attorney Adam B. Wolfe.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed Wolfe with 3,829 votes, Wallace with 3,045 votes and Walters with 2,585 votes.

Anthony Bisaha ran for Family Court Circuit 12, Division 1. Bisaha received 8,179 votes.

Lisa Kay Clark ran Family Court Circuit 12, Division 3. Clark received 8,262 votes.

Incumbent Republican Marty Gearheart of Bluefield ran for re-election in the House of Delegates District 37 contest. Democrat Polla McClelllan Rumberg of Bluefield also ran for her party's nomination.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed Gearheart with 1,582 votes. Rumberg had 648 votes.

Incumbent Republican Joe Ellington Jr. ran for re-election in the House of Delegates District 38 race. Democrat Randa C. Faulkner of Princeton also ran for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed Ellington with 2,011 votes and Faulkner with 708 votes.

Incumbent Republican Delegate Doug Smith ran for re-election the House of Delegates District 39 contest. Democrat Neal Vestal of Rock also ran for his party's nomination. Unofficial totals Tuesday showed Smith with 2,214 votes and Vestal with 708 votes.

Three candidates for the Republican nomination to the State Senate, 6th District, were on Mercer County's ballot. Incumbent Chandler Swope received 3,435 votes, Eric Porterfield received 1,940 votes and Craig A. Hart had 1,819 votes. Democrat Randy Fowler had 2,202 votes in Mercer County.

On the state level, Hart led with 4,818 votes. Swope trailed with 4,353 and Porterfield had 2,622 votes, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office. Fowler was running uncontested for the Democratic nomination.

Besides voting for who would be in public office, Mercer County's voters were also asked to decide whether to renew the Mercer County Board of Education levy.

After Mercer County's votes were counted Tuesday evening, unofficial results showing 7,048 votes for approving the school levy were counted.

Another 2,766 people voted against renewing it.

Approving the levy will ensure the continuation of essential extracurricular activities such as choir, band, sports and academic fairs, school officials said.

Additionally, it guarantees the provision of free textbooks, maintenance of building utilities, and the availability of crucial supplements for our coaches and staff.

"This victory is a testament to the strong community spirit in Mercer County. Our citizens have shown their commitment to the future of our children, and for that, we are profoundly grateful," said Mercer County School Superintendent Ed Toman.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

Contact Greg Jordan at