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Wood County ready for early voting, primary election

Photo by Brett Dunlap Wood County Commission President Blair Couch Thursday inspected voting machines, making sure they were locked and secured prior to the start of early voting Wednesday.

PARKERSBURG — Wood County is ready for the primary election and early voting that begins Wednesday.

The Wood County Commission conducted the public inspection of the voting machines Thursday, Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said.

“All of the equipment is ready,” Rhodes said. “The voting machines are ready.”

A public test of the tabulator will be held this week. Rhodes said there is new software officials of which the training was only available Friday.

Early voting will start Wednesday at the Judge Black Annex, 315 Market St. Early voting ends May 5 and election day is May 8.

Early voting will be held May 1-5 at four satellite voting precincts: Williamstown City Building, 100 West Fifth St.; Vienna City Building, 609 29th St.; Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, 1695 Elizabeth Pike; and Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department, 1340 Harris Highway.

Hours for the downtown and satellite sites will be the same, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

This is the first election that will require people to have an ID.

“Everyone needs to remember to have some form of ID with them,” Rhodes said.

Beginning Jan. 1, state law required voters show a form of identification to vote in person during the early voting period or on election day in any election, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.

If the voter has never before voted, a photo ID issued by the government will be required, Rhodes said.

The acceptable forms of a photo identification to show when voting include a West Virginia driver’s license or other West Virginia ID card issued by the DMV, driver’s license issued by another state, U.S. passport or passport card, military ID card issued by the U.S., U.S. or West Virginia government employee ID card, student ID card and a concealed-carry permit for a gun.

If someone is an established voter, and in the system having voted in the previous election, a number of non-photo identifications can be used.

The acceptable forms of non-photo identification to show when voting includes a voter registration card, Medicare card or Social Security card, birth certificate, West Virginia hunting or fishing license, WV SNAP ID card, WV TANF program ID card, bank or debit card, utility bill or bank statement issued within six months of the date of the election, and a health insurance card issued to the voter.

“We need something that says you are you,” Rhodes said. “A valid driver’s license (with a photo) is the best ID to have.”

There is a new law that says a pollworker can now vouch for a voter.

“Now they can sign off on that,” Rhodes said.

The law has also changed where campaign signs can now be 100 feet away from a polling place, a change from the 300-foot limitation.

Rhodes said the county has enough pollworkers, more than 400 in place, for the election.

Pollworking training will be held Wednesday through Saturday. Training for pollworkers manning the early voting site is Tuesday.

Around 56,100 people are registered voters in Wood County.

Rhodes said expects around 2,500-3,000 for early voting.

“During the last election around 26 percent of the turnout was during early voting,” Rhodes said.

The last couple of mid-term elections have had 19-20 percent voter turnout overall.

In November 2014, Wood County had around 2,700 do early voting.

The number of absentee ballots that were distributed has been down, Rhodes said.

“Our absentees have been pretty light,” Rhodes said. “In 2014, we had 72 absentee ballots.

“So far this year, we had 64 sent out with 24 sent back so far. Sometimes the absentees are an indicator to turnout.”

A lot of time, the races will also affect turnout. Presidential election years usually see a higher turnout.

“It depends on the races,” Rhodes said. “Williamstown is one of our smaller municipalities with the mayor and the council positions up for election.

“We will probably have a good turnout in Williamstown.”

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