Early Voting, Returned Absentee Ballots Signal Potentially Record-Breaking Numbers For West Virginia
More than 389,000 West Virginians have cast ballots ahead of Tuesday’s general election. That number accounts for absentee and early voting and a turnout so far of just under 31 percent.
State elections officials said Monday that 253,243 West Virginians cast a ballot during the 10-day early in-person voting period that ended Saturday.
Additionally, 136,005 West Virginians have cast an absentee ballot. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office says nearly 89 percent of requested absentee ballots have so far been returned.
“If you use [the total number of votes cast so far] against the 2016 general election, it's half — or, maybe, slightly over half. So I think we're on pace for perhaps a record-setting year,” Warner said. “And I'm just thrilled with everything — from the clerks to the poll workers to the voters themselves.”
Registered Republicans turned out the most for early, in-person voting — posting 111,982 ballots. Registered Democrats cast 85,107 early vos and other party — or no-party affiliation — voters made up the remaining 56,154 early ballots.
In terms of returned absentee ballots, registered Democrats have so far cast 76,296 votes. Registered Republicans have returned 34,039 absentee ballots. Other and no-party voters have cast 25,670 absentee ballots to date.
With those totals, registered Democrats have cast the most ballots overall one day ahead of Election Day.
“I think the bases are energized on both sides and that's what's driving the enthusiasm,” Warner said. “And then the accessibility of the polls makes it easy for people to vote. As you know, with COVID-19, everybody's eligible to vote absentee.”
Warner chalks the high absentee numbers up to an online portal used to request a ballot.
But absentee ballot numbers are down from the primary, in which roughly 225,000 voters cast an absentee ballot — nearly half of the total voter turnout. The online system marked a change from the procedures used during the primary, in which all registered voters were mailed an application for an absentee ballot.
Still yet, Warner said he is pleased with the process for the general election.
“There's an awful lot of work that's going on behind the scenes,” Warner said. “To the voters, it's almost ‘no news is good news.’ If the voters aren’t hearing about it, that means we're all doing our jobs.”
Outstanding absentee ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3 and received by the start of canvass on Nov. 9 to be counted.
On Election Day, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.