It's not often that folks in Hillsboro get riled about what Mayor Byron Farwell calls "the hired hands of the state," but this time they're fuming.

Voters in this quiet Loudoun County town of 115 residents feel slighted by what a State Board of Elections official described as an "error of omission" in the May 4 municipal elections ballot.

For a century Hillsboro has been one of a few Virginia towns to elect a town recorder. But the ballot for last month's elections failed to list the only candidate for town recorder. Some voters complained, but town election officials told them there was nothing they could do, Farwell said.

When he protested to the state election board, Farwell said, he received "the most remarkable reply" from Joan Mahan, secretary of the board. "She told me there was nothing she could do about it," Farwell said. Now he's taken his appeal to Gov. Charles S. Robb, "to make sure the same thing doesn't happen next election."

"If employes of the state are permitted partiality to disenfranchise an incorporated town with impunity, what would prevent the willful disenfranchisement of citizens for base motives?" Farwell asked Robb last week in a letter.

Although Farwell wants "heads to roll" over the matter, he said he doubts that there will be a special election for town recorder. If there is no special election, the newly elected Town Council will select a recorder, Farwell said.

Alexandra Spaith, a one-term town recorder who was unopposed in the May election, will continue in the position until the new town officials take office July 1.

"We've got a fine mess here. These hired hands of the state can actually take away the means to vote," said Farwell, who lost his seat as mayor in a special post-election drawing. Farwell received 17 votes, tying with Alexander F. Muir, an unannounced write-in candidate whose name was pulled from a punch bowl at Loudoun County Courthouse.