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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lincoln County commissioners Charles McCann, Thomas Ramey Jr. and Charles Vance will decide today who will take over for Lincoln County Clerk Donald Whitten.Whitten, who recently agreed to plead guilty to federal election fraud charges, has resigned his office as a condition of his plea agreement. McCann said Whitten's last day on the job would be Feb. 29.At a regular commission meeting Thursday, McCann said commissioners narrowed a list of half a dozen candidates down to two finalists, who will be interviewed today. The temporary clerk will take over March 1 and hold the office until after a November election to fill out Whitten's unexpired term.Commissioners will also interview candidates for interim sheriff to take over for Sheriff Jerry Bowman, who also pleaded guilty to federal charges. Bowman has not yet officially resigned his office, but also must quit to comply with his plea agreement.McCann said he did not know when Bowman would tender his resignation for sheriff. But he said both Bowman and Whitten have a federal court hearing on March 7.Bowman, 58, and Whitten, 62, agreed to plead guilty for their part in a scheme to rig the results of Lincoln County's 2010 Democratic primary by stuffing the ballot box with illegally obtained absentee ballots. More than 600 people cast absentee ballots in the election, the most of any county in the state.In 2005, former Lincoln County Assessor Jerry Weaver pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiring with former Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers to influence county elections from 1992 through 2004. Weaver was sentenced to a year in federal prison, while Stowers was sentenced to six months.In January, Weaver signed up to run for the office of Lincoln County sheriff, but withdrew his candidacy this week.Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

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