PARKERSBURG -Early voting opens today in the Fort Boreman public meeting room of the Judge Black Courthouse Annex.
The four new community voting sites will open for early voting on May 1.
Wood County elections officials are hopeful providing the additional four community voting sites in addition to the downtown Parkersburg location will encourage more people to vote early and cut down on lines at the polls on May 8, election day.
"We are a little worried with such a large ballot and traditionally larger turnouts in presidential election years that we might have lines on election day. We are hopeful those who can will take advantage of early voting. Every year individuals tell us they could not have voted were it not for the early voting opportunity. They may be out of town on election day, or for parents, election day is a day their children have off from school, so it might be easier for them to cast their ballot during the early voting period. The biggest problem we have with the downtown location is parking," said Jamie Six, county clerk.
Wood County commissioners earlier approved four early community voting sites.
Early voting in the Fort Boreman public meeting room of the Judge Black Courthouse Annex will be available April 25 to May 5. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays, April 28 and May 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The four newly created early vote community voting sites will be open only from May 1-4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.
The new satellite precincts will be located in the city buildings of Williamstown and Vienna and volunteer fire departments in Lubeck and Mineral Wells.
There are a total of 53,992 Wood County registered to vote; 20,860 Democrats; 21,479 Republicans; 11,189 nonpartisan, and 464 other party.
All four of the new community voting sites have parking available and are handicapped accessible.
Approximately 20 percent of the total vote count is cast during early voting.
Prior to the 2004 election voters had to have an excuse to cast an early ballot, no excuse early vote began in 2004. The first year it was offered it was held on the fourth floor of the Wood County Courthouse and election officials remember lines down the steps.
"With these four nearly created community vote sites we are hoping that will alleviate some of the problem, make it more convenient," Six said.
All five early voting sites will have all ballot styles available, so it doesn't matter where the voters lives, or where their usual precinct is located, they can vote at any of the early vote sites during the early voting period.
"Depending on their success, it will be up to the county commissioners whether we continue offering the four additional early voting sites. We've trained the pollworkers and they are ready to go. The four new community voting sites open next Tuesday, early voting will be available at the downtown site starting today," Six said.
"We want voters to have the option of early voting, some people want to wait to make a decision until election day," Six said. "It's whatever works best and is most convenient for them, the early voting just gives them another opportunity."
The approximate cost for the early vote community sites will be about $2,000. If savings are realized election day by trimming the number of voters who turn out and thus cutting down on the need for additional pollworkers, the costs will balance out.
"In presidential years we usually put extra pollworkers in the precincts. We will have to see what effect the new early vote community sites have, but we are committed to the primary and general elections this year. We will have a report for the commissioners in January about participation and costs then they make a decision in 2013 for the 2014 election year," Six said.