PARKERSBURG - Wood County officials said more than 300 voters turned out at the downtown early vote site within the first two hours of opening on Wednesday.
Early voting opened Wednesday at the downtown location in the Judge Black Courthouse Annex, accessible through the double doors across Market Street from the Blennerhassett Hotel. Early voting is available at that site through Nov. 3, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Early voting at the Black Annex will also be available on Saturday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 3 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
"We had 120 in the first hour and within two hours we had more than 300 go through, it's been steady," said Wood County Clerk Jamie Six who was at the site for the early vote precinct opening Wednesday.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
A voter enters the Wood County meeting rooms at the Judge Black Annex in Parkersburg for the first day of early voting in the general election Wednesday.
Six said there was adjustments needed on one printer, but otherwise everything was going smoothly.
"We were very busy, there were some lines so we called in additional workers," said deputy clerk Melody Ross. "But early voting does help cut down on lines election day and once the community voting sites open Oct. 30 that will help even more," Ross said.
"The pollworkers were working hard, I think this is a sign of what election day will be like, so we are encouraging everyone to get out early and vote now if they can. We pulled some regular staff in to help keep the lines moving. Our goal is to keep moving as quickly as possible," Six said.
Voters are reminded no electioneering is permitted on courthouse property during early voting. Once the four community vote sites open for early voting on Oct. 30 no campaigning is allowed on those properties and on election day there is a 300 foot campaign-free zone from the polling place entrance.
General Election day is Nov. 6.
Early voting is a popular option for West Virginians. In the 2008 General Election, more than 153,000 people voted during the early vote period, almost 22 percent of all of the votes cast in that election. Even though the early voting period has been shortened since then, Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant expects voter turnout to be strong.
"This is an election in which we are choosing our President, our delegation to Washington, our state leaders, and our local leaders," Tennant said. "Even though this is the seventh statewide election since May of 2010, I am confident that the people of West Virginia will go to the polls to help decide in which direction our state and nation will go. There can be no such thing as voter fatigue when the issues facing us are so important."
Overall turnout for the 2008 General Election was 58.7 percent.
There are 1,246,559 voters in West Virginia registered for the general election. According to the Statewide Voter Registration System, there are 640,532 Democrats, 358,655 Republicans, 1,385 Mountain, 222,016 people registered with no party affiliation, and 23,971 people registered with another political party.
Wood County's four community voting sites will open Oct. 30 through Nov. 3. Hours at those sites, Monday through Friday, will be 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The four community sites will only be open one Saturday. The sites will be located at: Williamstown City Building, 100 West Fifth St.; Vienna City Building, 609 29th St., Vienna; Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, 1695 Elizabeth Pike, and Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department, 1340 Harris Highway.