The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted late Tuesday against allowing voters to decide in November whether the board's chairman should be elected countywide.

Rejecting the unanimous recommendation of a citizens commission it appointed to study the matter, the board voted 6 to 2 not to place the issue on the ballot. But a citizens' petition drive could still lead to a referendum.

"We intend to be at all the shopping centers and {will} be going door to door," said William C. Mims, chairman of the county's Republican Party and a member of the Loudoun Blue Ribbon Committee on Government Structure, which recommended electing a chairman countywide.

The committee needs 3,723 signatures by Aug. 6 to put the issue on the ballot.

State Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun), also a leader of the petition drive, successfully introduced a bill last year to allow citizens to petition for a referendum to elect a countywide chairman.

The eight board members, who each represent a county district, now select a chairman. Election of a countywide chairman would increase the board size to nine. Fairfax County has an at-large chairman and Prince William County voters will elect their first at-large chairman next year.

Supervisors Betsey J.S. Brown (D-Catoctin) and Steve W. Stockman (R-Broad Run) voted for a November referendum. Other supervisors, including Chairman Betty W. Tatum (D-Guilford), questioned whether the county needs or wants an at-large chairman now, saying supervisors had not been approached about the issue by constituents other than members of the Blue Ribbon Committee and Waddell.

"Not one of us has gotten a phone call or a letter," Supervisor Charles A. Bos (D-Leesburg) said.