Wood County among highest voter turnouts; vote sites credited

PARKERSBURG – Wood County was ahead of the curve in terms of voter turnout during the November general election.

Turnout for the 2012 general election statewide was 54.96 percent, while Wood County’s turnout was 62.46 percent, according to county clerk Jamie Six’s office. The state secretary of state’s office listed Wood County’s turnout for the general election at 62.77 percent.

According to West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant’s office, the total number of ballots cast was 685,099. There were 1,246,559 West Virginians registered to vote in the election. That total includes the 150,666 ballots cast during the early voting period. More than 680,000 total ballots were cast, with more than 1 million West Virginia registered to vote.

Six attributed the large turnout to the fact this was a presidential election year, which typically draws out more voters and to the use of the community early vote sites.

“I think our community vote sites helped with not having long lines on election day and frustrating voters that may have walked away otherwise,” Six said. “There were also a lot of competitive races, not only the presidential and state races, but also locally, we had magistrate, sheriff, commissioner. We had a lot of good races and that always increases turnout,” Six said.

“I think all those factors played a role in the high turnout,” he said, noting while he feels the community vote sites are helpful during a presidential/general election, that is not necessarily the case in an off-year or primary election.

“We had about a 40 percent turnout for the primary, I think the regular precincts could have handled that kind of turnout. Cost-wise it wasn’t bad at all. If we hadn’t used the community sites, we would have had to add more pollworkers for the larger precincts on election day. We also didn’t have any more voting equipment, we were using all we had. The ballot was a little longer this time also with the library levy, sheriff’s constitutional amendment and so forth and that means it takes a little longer for the voters to get through the ballot, plus there were so many races. When it takes them longer to get through the ballot, that’s what turns into the lines,” the clerk said.

In addition to the usual early vote site provided at the Judge Black Courthouse Annex, this year, there were four community voting sites offered for early voting. Those sites were located at the Williamstown and Vienna city buildings, and Mineral Wells and Lubeck Volunteer fire departments.

Pocahontas County had the highest turnout in the state at nearly 72 percent. Barbour, Harrison, Jefferson, Lewis, Marshall, Mineral, Morgan, Putnam, Tucker, and Wood Counties all had voter turnout of more than 60 percent.

Neighboring counties Calhoun had a turnout of 40.16 percent; Doddridge had 58.42 percent; Gilmer, 54.26 percent; Jackson, 55.04 percent; Pleasants, 55.73 percent; Ritchie, 54.75 percent; Roane, 52.08 percent; Tyler, 54.34 percent, and Wirt, 51.63 percent.