“I Early Voted”

I am proudly wearing the “I voted early” sticker handed to me by a friendly poll worker. My wife and I always early vote at the same location in Monongalia County, and all went smoothly Wednesday. We were in and out in just a few minutes.

West Virginia’s early voting began with the 2002 Primary Election, and I cannot recall the last time I voted on Election Day.  Like many folks, I’m busy on Election Day so early voting is a matter of convenience. I also hear from some voters that say, after being deluged with advertisements, they just want to put the election behind them.

Early voting ends Saturday, and you can check with your county clerk for locations and times. Here are some notes about early voting—and turnout in general—so far, through Tuesday, May 7th:

–41,479 West Virginians voted early over the first six days. That is nearly as many people as voted early in the 2020 Primary, but that election was delayed for a month because of Covid. This year’s early vote totals may not exceed 2022, when 58,644 individuals voted early.

–More Republicans than Democrats cast ballots through the first six days; 13,314 Republicans, 10,135 Democrats, 4,450 Independents/no party affiliation and 2,181 voters have asked for the ballot from another party.

–Independents or voters with no party affiliation represent 25 percent of all registered voters, but so far they make up only 11 percent of the early voters.

–Kanawha County has had the most early voters through Tuesday—3,993—and that makes sense because it has the most registered voters of any county. The early voter split in Kanawha is pretty even: 1,640 Republicans  and 1,604 Democrats.

–It does not appear as though early voting has led to greater participation in West Virginia. General Election turnout in presidential years in West Virginia averaged 53 percent in the four elections between 1988 and 2000, before West Virginia allowed early voting. In the five General Elections in presidential years since then, turnout has averaged 51 percent. That suggests early voters are individuals who were going to cast ballots anyway; they just do it earlier now.

46 states have some form of early voting. The four that do not are Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi and New Hampshire.   Voters in the Granite State take their politics seriously. Their turnout has averaged 67 percent in the last seven General Elections during the presidential cycle, which is among the highest in the nation. The top spot for turnout typically goes to Minnesota or Maine. Hawaii has had the lowest turnout in presidential elections in five of the last seven cycles.

Again, there is still time to early vote, and if you have not done it before, you will find it is convenient. But for traditionalists, the polls will open at 6:30 Tuesday morning and remain open until 7:30 p.m. Live continuous coverage of the election results begins at 7:06 Tuesday night on MetroNews and results of statewide races will be posted on our website wvmetronews.com.

 

 





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