BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Polls will open Tuesday morning across West Virginia for the 2014 primary, but voting officials are not expecting a huge turnout to select the nominees for the November general election.

Robert Rupp, a political science professor at West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon, said primaries are important nonetheless.

“You’re narrowing down the field,” he said. “Someone said 60 percent of all elections are settled in January when you file, so you figure out who won’t be your opponent. But then 30 percent is on the primary.  Will the party pick the strongest candidate?”

According to records from the Secretary of State’s office, the voter turnout in West Virginia for the 2010 primary election–the last midterm primary election in West Virginia—was 24 percent, which was down from 26 percent during the 2006 midterm primary.

In the 2010 midterm general election, voter turnout was 42 percent, while 44 percent went to the polls four years earlier during the 2006 midterm general election.

A presidential race doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

During the 2012 general election, a presidential election year, West Virginia had the lowest voter turnout in the nation with about 47 percent of voters casting ballots. The U.S. Census Bureau said West Virginia was the only state where less than half of eligible voters made it to the polls.

A small number of voters, Rupp said, casting ballots in the primary could be a big factor in the crowded race for the Republican nomination for Congress in West Virginia’s 2nd District. Seven candidates are seeking the nomination on Tuesday.

“In this case, with low turnout and multiple candidates, you could win this election with (less than) 16 to 20 percent (of the vote),” he said.

Though Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) is expected to easily win nomination in the 3rd District, Rupp said the number of votes for his primary opponent, Richard Ojeda, could say a lot about Rahall’s chances for re-election against Sen. Evan Jenkins (R-Cabell, 5), the likely Republican nominee, in November.

If Ojeda pulls in a lot of votes, “It’s another sign that (Rahall) is in trouble and, as we know in past presidential primaries, West Virginians do use the primary to cast a negative vote,” said Rupp. In the 2012 primary election, 41 percent of Democratic voters voted for Keith Judd, a Texas prison inmate, instead of President Barack Obama.

Local contests could drive voters to the polls this time, because races for county school boards across West Virginia are non-partisan, so the results Tuesday will be final. “That’s a key election,” Rupp said. “That election really has to do with the future and our kids.”

The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  MetroNews will provide complete coverage of the results of the statewide races on the air on the MetroNews Radio Network and online at WVMmetroNews.com starting at 7 p.m.

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  • Gary Karstens

    Rahall will win the primary and general election. This state needs him to return to Washington. To heck with the coal barons......run their greedy selves out of WV.

    • Aaron

      Not that I expect an answer because I've yet to see you make anything other than partisan comments but I would live to see an explanation as to why we need Mr. Rahall back in Washington, particularly on a situation in which it's "to heck with coal barons."

    • Yuck

      Sure, send Rahall back to DC. Typical WV afterall, vote like my daddy did.

      What's another 10 yrs of WV behind the national curve and ranking last in everything other than obesity??

  • Worm

    This is why West Virginia cannot make significant change. A history of poor voter turn out. Ranked near the bottom. The same people that don't vote, will tell you how patriotic they are and their love for god and country.

  • Alum

    I will vote tomorrow but over the last few years I have held my nose while doing so. I am not surprised that people pass on the exercise given the choices presented.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Heard a radio spot recently. The latest political darling was claiming credit for a "game changing" business venture that has yet to break the first shovel of dirt.

    That's why I won't vote in the primary.

  • Grant

    Truly pathetic. There are people all over the world literally dying for the right to vote, and we only get 25% or less to show up. We deserve what we get folks.

  • Aaron

    It is past time to open up the internet to voters.

    • Aaron

      Is that the sky falling?

      • The bookman

        The 30% that is motivated enough to educate themselves on the issues will find a way to make it to the polls to cast their vote. The 70% who won't havent done their homework, or they would value the exercise with the level of importance that it warrants. No, I don't need to make it easier for someone too lazy to vote over the course of a week or so that early voting already provides.

        • Aaron

          Part of me agrees, and that part says if that's the case the perhaps the media and public officials should stop lamenting over low voter turnout.

    • P B and J

      The internet, what a great idea....its's safe, secure, and everyone is honest. What could go wrong.

      Only TAX PAYERS should have the right to vote, like our fathers intended.

      Also, everyone knows when election day is and the polls stay open for 12+ hours. Thats plenty of time to make it to the polls and cast your vote.

      • ViennaGuy

        On-line voting can be made safe; it's just a matter of proper voter verification and tight security. Publicly-traded corporations use the Internet all the time for shareholder votes on issues.

        • P B and J

          Key words "Public (private corp)" and "Government". We all know what happens when the govt runs thing.

        • Shadow

          With the Government doing it, it would be like the Health Plan, Open to all to vote and know how you voted.

      • Woodchuck

        Just like things are now.

        • Honest

          After the removal of the paper vote in exchange for touch screen machines no political office is without coruption.

          With paper, you at least had to put forth an effort to cheat.