Signs at the polls in Barbour County reminding voters of the recent death of House of Delegates candidate John Rose have some residents questioning the legality of the notices.
Rose was killed last week in a storm-related accident. His name remains on the ballot, and citizens can still cast votes for him.
If voters elect Rose, his election will be considered as a vacancy, and three Republican nominees for District 47 will be selected by the county's Republican Executive Committee and presented to the governor, who would select from the nominees a person to serve.
Rose, a Republican, was running against Democratic incumbent Mary Poling to represent the 47th District.
Some voters are concerned with the signs being posted in close proximity to the polls, and are wondering why it was done, Barbour County Commission President Phil Hart said, noting that he has received several calls on the matter.
Others claim the signs carry the potential of swaying the election. Max Grove, the chairman of the Barbour County Republican Executive Committee, said the signs do not explain that voters can still cast their ballots for Rose. He said the signs simply explain that Rose has passed away.
Voters may see the signs and think they can no longer vote for Rose, deciding instead to vote for another candidate or write-in candidate, Grove said.
"You walk up to the door, go directly in to vote, and the first thing you saw was this note that says 'John Rose Sr. is deceased,'" Grove said. "That puts that name of the candidate within a 300-foot distance. I can't place a candidate's name within 300 feet of the polling place unless it's posting the ballot."
Macel Auvil, county clerk and chief elections officer of Barbour County, said the wording of the sign came directly from the West Virginia Secretary of State's office. She said someone from that office called and requested the sign be posted at the polls.
In a press release available on the Secretary of State's website, media representative Jake Glance wrote that "there will be a sign posted at all precincts in the 47th Delegate District informing voters that Mr. Rose has passed away."
Auvil said she called Tucker County, which is also part of the district, and discovered the wording of the sign was identical in both counties. The existing signs for Barbour County have been taken down with the conclusion of early voting, but Auvil said a revised version will be posted for today's voting.
"We've been advised - and we revised the poster from here this morning - to go out to the polling places," Auvil said. "Everything that was put on these were put on exactly as to what the Secretary of State told us to post. We went ahead and reworded it and put the code and chapter and where they could find it in the code, showing how it had to be posted."
According to West Virginia Code, "if a candidate dies after the ballots are printed but before the election, the clerk of the county commission shall give a written notice which shall be posted with the sample ballot at each precinct with the county to the following effect: 'To the voter: (name), a candidate for (office) is deceased.'"