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Registered voters hit record numbers

April 29, 2008
PARKERSBURG — The number of registered voters in the Mid-Ohio Valley and across West Virginia are reaching record numbers.

The total registered voters in West Virginia include 665,234 Democrats, 347,760 Republicans and 156,199 who are unaffiliated, according to figures released from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. There are also 931 registered voters with the Mountain Party and 13,371 with some other alternative party, they added.

Interest in West Virginia’s May 13 primary has helped pushed its number of registered voters to a record-high 1.18 million. The number partly reflects efforts by the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns as they battle for every last Democratic Convention Delegate.

But the continuing rise in unaffiliated voters also accounts for the increase. For the first time, the Democrats are opening their primary to these voters.

In Wood County, there are 52,334 registered voters with 21,928 registered Democrats, 21,590 registered Republicans, 8,495 with no party affiliation and 321 with other party affiliations, according to officials in Wood County Clerk’s Office.

‘‘The total number of registered voters continues to grow,’’ said County Clerk Jamie Six.

Six said the number has continued to grow, in part, because voters stay registered longer despite voter inactivity.

Also, many media campaigns have enticed younger voters to register and become active in the political process.

‘‘Programing on MTV and VH-1 have encouraged many young people to have their voices heard,’’ Six said.

However, the largest block of registered voters remain older adults who vote regularly, he said.

The number of registered voters usually increase years when a presidential election is being held, officials in the Wirt County Clerk’s office said.

Wirt County recently finished a registration drive where they registered those eligible to vote from the senior class at Wirt County High School, they said.

In Wirt County, there are 2,220 registered Democrats, 1,465 registered Republicans, 538 with no party affiliation and around 35 registered to other parties.

For the first time, independent voters and voters who marked “no party affiliation” on their voter registration form will be able to vote in the Republican or the Democrat or the Mountain Party’s Primary, May 13, said officials in the West Virginia Secretary of State office.

“I want to assure voters they will have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice on May 13th.” Secretary of State Betty Ireland said in a press release.

These voters must ask for the Republican, the Democrat or the Mountain Party’s ballot when they cast their vote, officials said.

Six said non-affiliated voters must ask for the primary ballot they wish to vote on.

‘‘You must request the ballot when they come to the table,’’ he said.

In Roane County, there are 4,397 registered Democrats, 3,316 registered Republicans and 1,550 who are non-affiliated, officials in the Roane County Clerk’s office said. There are also over 30 registered in other parties.

In Ritchie County, there are 2,174, registered Democrats, 3,833 registered Republicans and 925 non-affiliated, county officials said. There were 12 other voters registered in other parties.

In Jackson County, there are 9,746 registered Democrats, 9,255 registered Republicans and 2,425 non-affiliated, officials said. There were also 22 registered in other parties.

In Calhoun County, there are 3,490 registered Democrats, 1,228 registered Republicans and 721 who are either registered with other parties or non-affiliated.

Officials in Pleasants County said they would not have the breakdown of registered voters until sometime today.

Most the the counties are seeing an increased number of voter registrations while a number are seeing voters change from registered Republicans to non-party affiliations in order to choose which primary they want to vote in.

The numbers also suggest that some Republicans have temporarily defected to cast ballots in the Democratic primary to have an impact on the Clinton/Obama race, the Secretary of State’s office reported.

Some county clerk offices reported voters changing so they could vote for specific candidates in local elections.

Early voting is currently underway across the state and will go until May 10.

In Wood County, early voting is being held at the Judge Donald F. Black Courthouse Annex in the public meeting rooms during regular business hours and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday May 3 and May 10, Six said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story


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