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Candidates not allowed at City Hall election night

ELKINS — Elkins City Hall will be closed to the public — and to the candidates on the ballot — on election night Tuesday.

Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton told The Inter-Mountain Friday that, due to COVID-19 concerns, only election officials and the press will be permitted inside City Hall after the Elkins Municipal Election polls close Tuesday evening.

“The plan now is that because of the number of candidates that we have, given the pandemic and the size of council chambers… we have 16 candidates, and that would basically fill the entire gallery if they were six feet apart,” Sutton said. “And then you have the press and ourselves, and we just decided not to do that this year.”

Despite the changes, election information will be provided as the ballots are counted Tuesday evening, the city’s external affairs specialist, Sutton Stokes, said in a city press release Friday afternoon.

“As ballot boxes are received from polling stations, we will announce results,” Stokes said in the release. “I will also be providing results to candidates and the public (online and on social media).”

Sutton said limiting the number of people in City Hall Tuesday evening will “significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus and ensure that city elections staff are not distracted by the need to enforce safety precautions.”

“During past city elections, council chambers have been open to the public as a courtesy for candidates, the media, and others wishing to learn election results as they come in,” she said in the Friday press release. “Unfortunately, this is yet another event for which modifications must be made to protect the health and safety of everyone during this still active Coronavirus pandemic. Just today, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that, nationwide, infections have been rising over the last three days and warned that this is not the time to relax precautions.”

Polls will be open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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