Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith, at right, shows Marjorie Richter how to use the county's new voting system during a recent demo at the Event Center at Brushy Fork.

Early voting totals soar compared to 2014 midterms

BUCKHANNON – The early voter beats the Election Day rush, and in Upshur County, a high number of residents won’t have to weather the hustle-and-bustle of the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election to cast their ballots.

Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith said 3,153 residents voted during the 11-day early voting period, which stretched from Oct. 24 through Saturday, Nov. 3 and included two Saturdays. In addition, 157 absentee ballots – which voters had to apply for by Oct. 31 – were returned to the county clerk’s office for a grand total of 3,310 early voters.

“That is very high, considering in November 2016 (a presidential election), we had 3,913 early voting ballots and 168 absentees, so that’s crazy to me, that that’s relatively the same number,” Smith said Monday as she prepared for Tuesday’s turnout.

And just how many people voted in Upshur County the last time the midterms rolled around? Smith said in 2014, 2,231 people voted during the early voting period in addition to just 72 absentee voters.

That means more than 1,000 additional people voted early this year compared to four years ago.

Smith said the county’s new voting system, the ExpressVote voting machines and the DS200 tabulators, worked relatively well with only a few minor glitches. If glitches occur, a poll worker simply spoils a ballot – or declares it invalid – and gives the voter a brand new ballot.

Smith predicted the total voter turnout could even top the 2016 presidential general election and will almost certainly exceed what Upshur County saw in the 2014 midterm election.

In 2016, overall voter turnout was 65.34 percent, with a total of 9,400 ballots cast.

“I truly think that you’re probably going to be looking at something around 68-70 percent,” Smith said. “Really, I do. A lot of people think it’s important to actually vote on Election Day, and I think that there are enough of those people that it’s going to be a good turnout.”

There are currently 13,462 registered voters in Upshur County, Smith said.

High early voter turnout seemed to be the trend across the Mountain State, according to a statement from W.Va. Secretary of State Mac Warner posted on the secretary of state’s website Monday morning.

Warner reported that early voting totals in 2018 topped early voting totals in general elections from 2002 through 2014.

“As of this morning, unofficial numbers show that 183,205 West Virginians voted or turned in an absentee ballot,” Warner wrote in the statement. “I’m extremely pleased that so many West Virginians took advantage of early voting. Numbers significantly exceed the 2002 through 2014 General Elections. This impressive turnout and the smooth execution of the early voting procedures are a direct reflection on the detailed preparations by the clerks and their staff.”

Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Still not sure where your precinct is located? Find it at www.govotewv.com.

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