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Record number of early votes cast

By Dave Boucher, Capitol Bureau Chief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More voters cast ballots ahead of today’s primary election than in any other similar race in state history, according to the office of West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

The 44,547 ballots cast during the state’s 10-day early voting period is the most ever for a midterm primary election.

“These numbers prove that even with a shortened early voting period, this option continues to be very convenient for West Virginians,” Tennant said in a news release.

The early voting period started April 30 and ended Saturday.

An additional 2,286 West Virginians cast absentee ballots, according to the news release. The total 46,833 early ballots cast surpasses 2010’s 40,557.

Both are significantly more than the 25,851 early voting and absentee ballots cast in 2006 and the 14,522 total in 2002, according to Tennant’s office.

With the most registered voters, Kanawha County’s 4,140 ballots cast during early voting were most in the state.

That’s more than 1,000 extra votes compared to early ballots cast in 2010, the last non-presidential primary election, said Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick.

“Early voting is getting more popular all the time,” McCormick said Monday afternoon.

There are nearly twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans in Kanawha County, and early voting trends reflected those registration disparities. About 2,400 Democratic primary ballots were cast, compared to 1,230 Republican ballots. Another 461 non-partisan ballots — which include just the school board race and county levy decision — were also cast.

Registered independents may choose which primary ballot they would like to cast.

Ballots cast in early voting accounted for about 3.2 percent of the 135,722 registered voters in Kanawha County. However, McCormick anticipates voter turnout at about 15 percent; turnout tends to be lower in primary elections and during non-presidential elections. At that rate, early ballots could account for about 20 percent of total voter participation in the Kanawha County primary.

In Putnam County almost 1,200 people cast ballots through early voting. The number was about the same as the 2010 election, when 1,145 people cast early voting ballots, said a woman in the Putnam County Clerk’s office.

At 15,100 compared to 14,500, Republicans have a slight registration advantage in the county. Early voting patterns mirrored those totals, with 661 ballots cast in the Republican primary, compared to 399 ballots for the Democrats and 78 ballots with no party affiliation.

Following statewide registration trends, a little more than 25,000 Democratic primary ballots were cast compared to 14,200 Republican primary ballots.

Wood County registered the second largest total of early voting ballots cast in any county. At 2,683 early ballots and another 62 absentee ballots, about 5 percent of Wood County registered voters made their official election decisions before today.

Berkeley, Harrison and Monongalia counties all registered more than 1,700 early voting and absentee ballots.

The Secretary of State’s office did not receive any early voting or absentee ballot data from Calhoun County.

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. today and close at 7:30 p.m.

The Secretary of State’s website offers an online portal where voters can enter their name and birthday to find the location of their polling place. Visit the Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.wv.gov, for more information.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.


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