It is Election Day in West Virginia!
Okay, it isn’t the Election Day, but in-person early voting starts today. If history is any indicator, a large percentage of West Virginians will take advantage of the opportunity.
In the 2018 off-year election, 176,359 votes were cast early and in-person. That represented 30 percent of all the votes cast in that election.
The turnout was higher in the 2020 presidential election year—just over 800,000 total votes were cast and 32 percent, or 256,113 of those votes, were early and in-person.
Early voting started out slowly in West Virginia when it was adopted in 2001. It was a dramatic change for Mountain State voters to think they could cast their ballot at any time other than Election Day.
That feeling still holds true today for many West Virginians. For example, MetroNews news director Jeff Jenkins still votes on Election Day. “I like to be at the polls early and get the feel of things,” Jenkins said.
I am an early voter, and I have been for years. It is a matter of convenience because you never know what is going to come up on Election Day. The early voting location we use in Monongalia County is always smooth and efficient.
There is a risk to early voting. It is possible that new information may emerge about a particular candidate or race after you have already cast your ballot. The growing interest in early voting suggests more people are willing to take that chance.
I have also heard from a few early voters who say they just want to be done with it. They are tired of all the politics, and they believe once they have voted they can tune out the TV and radio ads, the signs, and the mailings.
All 55 counties offer early voting. “The county courthouse or its annex in each county serves as an early voting location,” according to Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office. “Many of the state’s counties also offer additional community voting locations.” A complete list can be found at GoVoteWV.com.
By law, early voting begins 13 days before the election and ends three days before Election Day, meaning the last day for early voting for this election is November 5th. Those ballots are not counted until the polls close on Election Day.
MetroNews will once again provide live, continuous coverage on election night starting at 7:06 p.m. The results of races for Congress, the state Senate, House of Delegates and the four amendments will be posted in real time on our website wvmetronews.com.