This article originally provided by Public Campaign

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 each county.

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 $2,000 fine.

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 many years.

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.


Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246