BUCKHANNON – Ready, set, vote!
Early voting in West Virginia for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 General Election gets underway Wednesday, Oct. 24, during regular office hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Upshur County Courthouse, 40 W. Main St.
It’s easy – just look for the red, white and blue stand-up sign that beckons, “Vote here today!”
Weekday early voting hours will continue to be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through Friday, Nov. 2.
The 11-day early voting period includes two Saturdays during which voters can cast their ballots: Saturday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 3, Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith said Tuesday.
Nov. 3 is also the last day to vote early prior to the Nov. 6 General Election.
Smith says voters should note that Saturday early voting hours, which run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., differ slightly from weekday voting hours due to requirements in West Virginia Code. (Voters may cast their ballots from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.)
Although Smith understands the desire to and excitement of voting on Election Day, she’s also encouraging residents to consider early voting to ensure their ballots get counted.
“From my perspective, over the course of doing this since 2002, I’ve had in almost every election cycle, somebody who misses out on voting because they want to vote on Election Day, and something happens from Sunday to Monday, and they can’t vote on Election Day,” Smith said. “It’s great to vote on Election Day, and I understand people wanting to do that, but sometimes, life happens, and there’s nothing we can do about it. There’s no special absentee [ballot]; they just don’t get to vote.”
However, there are regular absentee ballots available – typically to people who aren’t able to be present in their hometown on Election Day. While there’s a whole host of reasons people vote absentee, some of the most common examples are military members deployed overseas; individuals homebound or confined to nursing homes who are immobile; and college students who want to vote in their home county, Smith said.
Absentee ballot applications, which are available on the county’s website, www.upshurcounty.org, must be submitted before or no later than Tuesday, Oct. 30, she added.
That’s because the county clerk’s office is charged with mailing them out by Wednesday, Oct. 31 at the very latest.
“You can fax it, you can email it, you snail mail it or you can personally bring it in, just as long as we get it by Oct. 30,” Smith said.
In the weeks leading up to early voting, Smith said her office has noticed an uptick in both the number of people changing their voter registration details – such as their addresses – and the number of Upshur County residents who have requested absentee ballots.
“We actually had, it seemed, more people changing their registration, and when I say registration, I mean more like people who moved to Buckhannon that were from another county,” Smith said. “We had a lot of those.”
In addition, Smith said the county clerk’s office has mailed out more than 100 absentee ballots, an unusual number for a mid-term election.
“For a mid-term election, that’s very high,” she said. “I think it’s great.”
Typically, the number of absentee ballot applications the office receives hovers around 60, she said.
“I think the most absentee ballots I ever remember was 160 in 2008 when President Obama was running,” Smith said, “and that was a lot for a general election.”
So does the county clerk have any words of advice for early voters?
“Be patient,” she said. “Also, the new voting equipment (ExpressVote) is going to be set up as voters walk through the door, so if they want to do a quick demonstration, we can do that for them.”
Smith urged voters to check out a list of resources on her web page, which include sample ballots, accepted forms of identification, voting precinct maps and precinct locations. Visit www.upshurcounty.org and under the “Government” tab, click on “County Clerk.”
The links to the above-referenced resources are located on the left side of the page.
Still have questions? Give the county clerk’s office a call at 304-472-1068.