Officials hope for good turnout

PARKERSBURG – After early voter turnout went better than anticipated, Wood County election officials are hopeful election day turnout today also will exceed earlier expectations.

Early voting began April 30 and ended Saturday. A total of 2,685 people turned out to cast their ballot early.

There are 54,509 registered to vote in Wood County.

“The early vote numbers were actually a little better than the other off-year elections in the past, so I’m hoping the way it came out, that our turnout today is better,” Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said.

Rhodes said earlier he was anticipating about a 15 percent turnout for election day, which would be lighter than normal even for an off-year election.

“After the early voting numbers, I’m hopeful we could hit 25 percent, that’s about average for an off-year election,” the clerk said.

Rhodes said election officials will be performing the public test, then load the early voting results.

“So we should have some results available by about 8 p.m. and then we’ll put the precincts in as they start coming in,” he said.

Some candidates and their supporters choose to watch the results at the Wood County Courthouse, others prefer watching the updates on the computer from their home. Wood County’s website is www.woodcountywv.com.

Polls open 6:30 a.m. today and will remain open until 7:30 p.m.

Voters not registered as Republican or Democrat can still vote on nonpartisan candidates, which includes Wood County Board of Education candidates, Easy Rider bus levy and Soil Conservation District supervisor position.

“Both political parties have opened their primaries as well, so if you are not a registered Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Mountain Party, you can request a Republican or Democrat ballot, whichever they want to vote,” said Melody Ross, deputy clerk with the voter’s registration office.

To be eligible to vote on the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority’s Easy Rider bus levy, voters must be residents within the corporate limits of Parkersburg or Vienna.

Republican county commission candidate Bob Tebay’s name will appear on the Republican ballot. Tebay earlier attempted to withdraw from the race, citing health concerns. The deadline to withdraw was Feb. 11. His withdrawal was filed in mid-April. According to an attorney general’s opinion his name was to remain on the primary ballot.

If Tebay wins the primary, the county commission must certify him as the nominee. If Tebay wins the primary, the attorney general’s opinion notes if he is to be replaced, he would have to withdraw again.

If Tebay wins the primary and does not withdraw, he would go into the general election as the Republican party’s candidate. If Tebay doesn’t win the primary, the issue is moot. Deadline to withdraw for the general election is Aug. 12.

If Tebay withdraws after the primary by the deadline the Republican Executive Committee would need to have approval of the state Elections Committee to appoint a replacement nominee for him going into the general election. The party would have until Aug. 18 to nominate a candidate for the general election.

Four Republican candidates are on the ballot for the commission seat: Tebay, Sam Baker, Raymond Jones and Roger Brown. Incumbent commissioner Wayne Dunn is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket.

While commission candidates serve countywide, they are elected one each from the three districts every six years. The district currently up for election this year is District C.

Also on the ballot will be Wood County Board of Education candidates: Jim Fox, District A; Tad M.Wilson, District B; Lawrence Hasbargen, District C; Peggy Smith, District C; Ron Tice, District A; Ponnie Piggott-Sampson, District C; Steve Smith, District A; Ami Shaver, District A; Rene Imler, District B, and Jimmy Asbury, District B.

Delmas Carr is unopposed in his bid Conservation District Superintendent.

The primary is the final election for both the nonpartisan board and conservation superintendent races. A renewal of the levy for the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority to finance Easy Rider in Parkersburg and Vienna also is on the ballot.

Voters will decide on Democratic and Republican Executive Committees; Senatorial District Committee; Congressional Executive Committees; Senatorial District Executive Committee, and Congressional District Executive Committee members.

House of Delegates District 8 candidates are Bill Anderson, Republican, and Denzil “Buddy” Malone, Democrat. In District 9: Anna Border, Republican, and Jim Marion, Democrat.

In District 10 for three seats are Republicans Courtney Lynne Ahlborn, Mike Azinger, Vernon Criss, Frank Deem, John R. Kelly and Debra L. Steed. On the Democratic ticket, Paul E. Miller and Dan Poling.

State Senate District 3 candidates are David C. Nohe, Republican, and Robert “Robin” Wilson Jr., Democrat.

Williamstown has three mayoral candidates on the ballot: Jean Ford, Loren Cullem and David Ward. Incumbent councilmen Ron Erb and Marty Seufer are unopposed.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said if a voter witnesses what they believe to be a violation of election law they should contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 304-558-6000.

Alleged voter fraud issues can also be directed to the Wood County Prosecutor’s office, 304-424-1776. Questions about voter registration or alleged campaign law violations can be reported to the voter registration office of the county clerk, 304-424-1860.

Precinct consolidation changes are in effect for this election, the first time in a regular election.

The new polls were first used for the school levy renewal special election. Since turnout was low for that election, county officials anticipate there may be some confusion over the changes in the polls.

There were 7,700 voters affected by the changes. The county’s 86 precincts were consolidated into 69.

The polling place changes will not affect any existing lines for any elected officials who run by district which includes the city of Parkersburg council, board of education and county commission.

Candidates for council in Williamstown run at large.

The changes made as a result of the consolidation process are permanent.

The last consolidation move came back in 2003 after the 2000 census, when 11 precincts were eliminated at that time.