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Group files complaint against Maghan

By Staff | Oct 22, 2010

CHARLES TOWN The Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office against County Clerk Jennifer Maghan Friday morning.

They did so because of a recent mailing an estimated 27,000 registered Jefferson County voters received shortly after early voting began.

Reva Mickey, JCDEC chairwoman, said that the committee faxed the complaint at 10:45 a.m. Friday. The mailing was sent to registered voters in the form of a postcard with information about when, where and how to vote. On the card was the Jefferson County Clerk’s seal as well as Maghan’s name, who is on next month’s ballot for reelection.

“It gives the appearance that she’s doing…campaigning or electioneering on her behalf,” Mickey said.

Mickey checked with other county clerks to see how they get individuals to the polls. They mentioned running advertisements in local newspapers when the sample ballots were ready.

In a release sent out by Maghan, it stated that the postcards were sent out due to “low voter turn-out and a high number of commuters that do not read the local newspapers.”

Voter turnout for the Special Primary Election for U.S. Senate had a 12 percent voter turnout.

“Our office sent our emergency precinct change reminders to three precincts prior to the election, and as a result, had a significant increase in voter turnout,” Maghan said in the release. “Many residents commented that had they not received that notice, they never would have known that the special election was taking place.”

But what the JCDEC believes is the real “abuse of power” is using taxpayer money to fund sending out this information with Maghan’s name on it, just weeks before Election Day.

Maghan’s office did not immediately return calls about the cost of the mailing.

Mickey said that while Maghan may just be doing her job trying to get people out to vote she believes she could have done it without including her name on the mailing.

“I have no hang up at all about reminding people to vote,” Mickey said. “But I think it was totally misused and abused in this situation.”

Mickey said the JCDEC considers this postcard political campaign material. Had Maghan not been on this year’s ballot, then it would be a different story.

The JCDEC is also concerned about how the postcard will be dealt with if voters decide to take it into the polling places. Because Maghan’s name appears on it and because the JCDEC believes it is campaign material, the committee believes poll workers should immediately remove it.

The JCDEC also believes that the publicly funded county clerk website is being misused by Maghan “to promote her campaign as well as her fellow Republican candidates.”

Maghan responded in the release stating that since 2006 the county clerk’s site was the first in the state to offer direct links to candidate information including financial statements, photos and websites.

“Our office provides equal opportunity to all candidates on the ballot of have their information posted on the Clerk’s website, and a disclaimer clearly states that the office of the county clerk does not endorse any candidate and that any views on the site are those of the individual candidate and have been posted at the candidates’ request,” Maghan said in the release.

Jake Glance, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said under state code, the office is prohibited to acknowledge the status of a complaint. He said he “can or cannot say if they’ve received it.”

He said, however, once complaints are properly signed and notarized, the office will determine if they have legal jurisdiction to investigate.

Glance added, “Election complaints don’t change the outcome of the election.”