PARKERSBURG Local election officials said things mostly went smoothly, and they were pleased with a turnout of 61 percent for the election Tuesday.
"In general, things went smoothly. We had one voting machine with a bad battery and we had to keep rotating batteries to keep it going. Then in one precinct pollworkers locked their keys in the car and that caused some delay," said Wood County Clerk Jamie Six.
Six said there were few lines at the polls and he attributed that, at least in part, to a good showing of early voters.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Penny Givens, left, a deputy clerk for Wood County Clerk Jamie Six's office, speaks with Lubeck Elementary poll workers Cheryl Baxter, left, and Donna Jack about paperwork as they turned in results for the 67th precinct Tuesday evening at the Wood County Courthouse.
"I think it showed the early vote precincts, including the four community sites, helped," Six said.
One of the largest statewide voter turnouts in West Virginia was for the 1960 general election, with 77 percent of the registered voters casting a ballot. In the last presidential general election, there was a 59 percent statewide turnout.
Early vote turnout in Wood County was better than expected for this presidential election with 11,715 of the county's 55,343 registered voters casting ballots early at the five voting sites.
Going into the General Election, Wood County had 21,005 Democrats, 21,929 Republicans, 11,898 registered as no party, and 511 registered in other parties to vote, as reported by the county clerk's office.
Turnout for the primary was 27.72 percent in Wood County. A total of 3,730 turned out for early voting in the primary.
Statewide, going into the General Election, registration, as reported by the secretary of state's office, was 1,246,559, with 51 percent registered as Democrat, 29 percent Republican, no party, 18 percent, and other, 2 percent.
Six reported earlier that he was contacted late Monday afternoon about a possible attempt at voter intimidation.
The man stated he was called by an individual who identified himself as a county clerk's office employee. The caller told the man due to the large volume of anticipated voters, Republicans were to vote on Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday, and if he tried to vote Tuesday he would be arrested.
"It was apparently an isolated incident because we did not receive any other calls or complaints along those lines. I reported the incident to the prosecutor and it's my understanding he's following up on it," Six said.
Prosecutor Jason Wharton said he called the man, who was very upset but did not want to file a written complaint and didn't wish to be identified.
"He was upset. I reassured him election day was Tuesday for everyone, and he would not be arrested for voting on Tuesday," Wharton said. "We will follow up after the election. Our biggest concern was just confusion with voters. I did reassure him. We don't want this type of thing taking place and we do take these things seriously," Wharton said.
The prosecutor's office had staff on duty while polls were open to take complaints of potential election law violations or irregularities. "Sometimes we get a few calls, some elections we don't get any calls," Wharton said.
Questions about voter registration, precinct locations and other related election issues are handled by the clerk's office at the courthouse.
A representative of the secretary of state's office was in Wood County for election day. The state had a presence in every county.
Josh Exline, a business and licensing expert for the secretary of state's office, was helping with the election in the field in Wood and Pleasants counties Tuesday.
"We just observe the precincts. I saw no major problems, things were running smoothly. We just help out where we can. If we can't, we direct them to the main office. We have people on staff all day to answer any questions and help with any situations that might arise. There were some minor hiccups, as are to be expected, but nothing major," Exline said.
Six reported there were exit pollers from Edison Research stationed outside a polling place at Parkersburg Catholic High School doing national polling on Tuesday.
"They were properly registered with the secretary of state's office; they had the proper credentials. We did receive some calls about it. They were doing exit interviews; they are allowed within the 300 foot limit to do that. They are permitted to talk to voters on the way out of the polling place, not going in," Six said.
Election results are not official until after they are certified following a canvass by the Wood County Commission. The commissioners rule on challenged (provisional) ballots, and overseeing a handcount of four precincts.
Because Monday is a holiday for the county (observance of Veterans Day) the canvass will commence at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. It is anticipated it will take two days to complete.
Overruling a provisional ballot means the votes will be counted; if a challenge is sustained, the ballot is not counted. Absentee ballots received by the start of the canvass are counted in the totals.
Once the commission completes the canvass, a 48-hour time clock begins during which a recount can be requested. If no request is filed, election results can then be certified.