Early voter turnout low for road bond

Early voting ends today

PARKERSBURG — Turnout for early voting for the special road bond election has been low compared to other recent elections.

Early voting started Sept. 22 and runs through today. The special election for the measure will be Saturday.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, 24,864 voters have cast ballots in early voting, said Steven Allen Adams, assistant communications director for the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

Gov. Jim Justice’s administration is looking for approval to sell bonds to finance new road work.

The vote is asking for approval of the sale of $1.6 billion in bonds over four years for road improvement projects across the state.

This will include road repair, new road construction and finishing projects at various points in their development. The governor is looking for tax revenue to invest in the bonds to be leveraged into money to do the work.

The money to be leveraged would come from increases to the state’s annual vehicle registration fee from $30 to $50, raising West Virginia’s gasoline tax 3.3 percent and allowing residents the option of paying a yearly $8 flat fee to drive on the state’s toll roads, which is estimated to raise $132 million a year.

All of the work being proposed is expected to create 48,000 new jobs, state officials said.

Officials said the funding means are in place and will not raise taxes.

Under the Roads to Prosperity Highway Program, Wood County has 23 projects, totaling $75.7 million, Pleasants has seven projects ($5.6 million), Jackson has 22 projects ($57.8 million), Wirt has 10 projects ($10 million), Ritchie has 10 projects ($10.3 million), Roane has 15 projects ($58.8 million) and Doddridge has 12 projects ($6.4 million).

Wood County has had 1,291 people coming in for early voting on this measure, Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said.

”That is way down for early voting,” he said. ”I would say we are at a 2 percent turnout so far.”

Early voting in Wood County has been taking place at the Judge Black Annex.

”We have had people who came in to see what we were voting on,” Rhodes said.

Around 300 of the early voters were poll workers who voted early so they would not have to vote a provisional ballot during election day, Rhodes said.

Early voting will be done today at the Judge Black Annex from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The voting is being done by paper ballot statewide.

In Jackson County, officials said they have had around 500 early voters. Early voting is being conducted today at the Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Officials in Wirt County did not have an early voting tally available Tuesday. Early voting will be done today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the county commission room at the Wirt County Courthouse in Elizabeth.

In Pleasants County, there have been 165 people participating in early voting. Early voting will be done today from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Pleasants County Courthouse in St. Marys.

In Ritchie County, officials estimate they have had over 200 people participate in early voting. Early voting will be done today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the county commission room at the Ritchie County Courthouse in Harrisville.

Roane County Clerk Charlie White said around 450 people have come in for early voting. Early voting today will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Roane County Courthouse in Spencer.

That number is above some other special elections in Roane County recently, but still below what it sees in a normal election, White said.

Polls will be open statewide Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at voting precincts.