This article originally provided by
May 5, 2006
W.Va. deserves clean elections
Federal prosecutors have acted in the interest of honest voters
ON Tuesday, West Virginians will select candidates for office in the November
election, as well as elect members to county boards of education. In Kanawha
County, the fate of the bus and ambulance levy will be decided.
This is important business. If, as Abraham Lincoln said, freedom is the
religion of America, then the ballot is sacred. No person's vote should be
diluted by corruption.
And yet, ballot box corruption continues in West Virginia. Even in the 1990s,
the dead were voting in Southern West Virginia. And as recently as two years
ago, votes were traded like baseball cards in Lincoln and Logan counties, thus
cheapening the votes of everyone.
But federal prosecutors were ready this time. They snared a half-dozen men in
On Thursday morning, U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver sentenced three for
their various convictions in a scheme to buy votes in the 2004 election.
Wandell "Rocky" Adkins will spend four months in a halfway house and pay a
Ralph Adkins will spend three months in a halfway house and another three
months on home confinement. He'll pay a $1,000 fine.
Toney "Zeke" Dingess will spend three months on home confinement and three
years on probation.
Clifford "Groundhog" Vance was sentenced to 21 months in prison -- nine
months of which will be concurrent with a 30-month sentence for a conviction on
a firearms charge. He also faces a year of supervised release.
Vance, an employee of the state Division of Highways, admitted that he paid
for votes with $10 or $15 cash payments or with pints of whiskey during the 1988
or 1990 Democratic primary.
On Tuesday, former Lincoln Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers and former Assessor
Jerry Weaver will be sentenced.
Stowers gave up his seat on the state Democratic Party's executive committee
after he pleaded guilty to his part in the operation -- supplying the cash to
buy votes in the Democratic primary and general elections. It had gone on for
Federal prosecutors said the men were part of a conspiracy that had been
rigging elections since 1990.
The men also were accused of adjusting some voters' property taxes, granting
county government jobs in exchange for support, and promising to pave roads if
they got help at the polls.
This is un-American. Jobs and government services should not be dependent
upon how one votes.
Vote-buying in Logan County was just as bad.
The U.S. attorney's office under both Kasey Warner and Chuck Miller did a
fine job in pursuing these cases.
People should show their appreciation by turning out in record numbers in
those counties on Tuesday. For the first time in years, their votes will not be
diluted by purchased votes.