LIVE BLOG: W.Va. 2022 Primary Election
Updated on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at 9:20 p.m.
There are a number of important races to watch in West Virginia this midterm Primary Election.
The Associated Press has called the 1st Congressional District race in West Virginia for Rep. Carol Miller. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s office reports she has more than 65 percent of the vote.
The AP has also called the newly created 2nd Congressional District race for Rep. Alex Mooney, defeating fellow Republican Rep. David McKinley. Both men were incumbents. The Secretary of State’s office, as of 9:15 p.m., reports Mooney has 54 percent of the vote, while McKinley has 35 percent.
A 2018 law created single member districts in the House of Delegates, and redistricting, spurred by population loss in the 2020 census, has shaken up a number of seats in the West Virginia Legislature and in Congress.
Mooney had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. McKinley had been endorsed by Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
All 100 seats in the House are up for grabs, and in several cases, incumbents are running against incumbents.
In the 8th Senatorial District, a Republican candidate was disqualified from the ballot last week in a move that may have caused some confusion at the polls.
Follow along on the West Virginia Secretary of State's website to see the latest numbers.
A bright, sunny day at all 1,680 precincts across the state is helping with voter turnout, according to Secretary of State Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Queen.
He said they are facing challenges in two areas:
One is poll workers not showing up and some calling in sick at the last minute, but he said that’s why county clerks have alternates at the ready.
The other challenge comes with redistricting around the state.
Queen said voters who go to their old precinct are being directed to their new precinct, some are even getting rides to their new polling place. Voters who aren’t at their designated precinct can cast a provisional ballot that will be counted at canvass time.
Queen said voter turnout is heavier than expected in the Northern and Eastern Panhandles. Both regions are in the new 2nd Congressional District.
Reporting by Government Reporter Randy Yohe
Health Reporter June Leffler spoke with several voters on Charleston's West Side Tuesday. Many said early voting wasn’t much of an option for them and finding their new polling place was challenging.
The precinct at West Side Middle School confused some voters, as polls were usually in the gym. This year, due to some construction, a lack of signage, parking and accessible walkways, voters said they had trouble figuring out where to cast their ballot.
“We had to ride around for a while to figure out exactly where to go," Olubunmi Kusimo-Fraizer said. "And I told [my husband] straight up I feel disenfranchised.”
Read June's full story here.
Reporter Curtis Tate also reports from Charleston. Tate spoke with voter Kevin Edwards, a rural mail carrier from Charleston, who cast his ballot in today’s primary at Terrace Park East, an apartment complex near the Capitol.
“We vote in my house," Edwards said. "We’re voters.”
Edwards said he wasn’t motivated to vote by any particular issues or candidates in the primary. Rather, it was more about civic participation.
“Whatever little teeny piece of hand you have in picking your government, you do have a say." Edwards, who’s Black, knows that people died for his right to vote.
“My dad and my parents instilled that in me," Edwards said. "So it’s kind of something I try to pass on to my kids. I want them to understand that it’s not just a right, but it’s kind of a privilege as well.”
For some voters, casting a ballot in Tuesday’s primary was as easy as walking down the street.
“I kind of knew that I might as well wait until Election Day and walk over here and vote, and it was easy as it always is,” DL Hamilton of Charleston said.
Hamilton said there was no line at her polling place near the state capitol, and she was pleased to see some of her neighbors there.
“Voting is so easy in West Virginia when you live close to your polls that I just don’t understand why people don’t vote," Hamilton said. "And even if they don’t think the process works, it truly is the least we can do.”
Only 26 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in West Virginia’s 2018 primary, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State.
Reporting by Energy & Environment Reporter Curtis Tate
Conservative voters in the Eastern Panhandle are mixed on whether to vote for incumbent House members David McKinley or Alex Mooney.
Jefferson County voter Jeffery Kellogg said he’s leaning toward McKinley, though he knows most of their voting records are identical.
“I'm a little bit more persuaded to vote for McKinley because he's a lifelong West Virginian. And Mooney is something of an opportunist who's been in New Hampshire, then Maryland, and now West Virginia” Kellogg said. “Also, I'm a little bothered by Mooney’s ethics violations, paying for family vacations and Chick-fil-A trips with campaign funds.”
As for the state Senate, some Berkeley and Jefferson county voters are backing District 16’s Renée Wibly over former House of Delegates member Jason Barrett. Voters like Kellogg say that Barrett, a former Democrat, does not seem conservative enough.
“Jason has kind of been Democrat followed by Republican, that bothers me a little bit,” Kellogg said. “And so I'm kind of leaning toward Wibly, even though she doesn't really have a lot of experience in the legislature the way Jason does.”
Snyder also caught up with some Democrat voters in the Eastern Panhandle.
In the Eastern Panhandle, Democrats are showing up to support causes they feel are threatened by conservatives both in-state and nationwide.
Voters like Nicholas Tucker say they are voting Democrat to defend issues like the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade. He said the precedent could lead to overturning other 14th Amendment rights at the state level like same-sex marriage.
“If you chip away at one section of it, there's a chink in the armor that can be exploited for any of the future ones,” Tucker said. “So you have to make your voice heard now.”
The West Virginia Legislature has indicated a desire to ban abortion in the state and many voters are concerned it will happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The recent realignment of the state’s House of Delegates districts is also a concern for Tucker. The Republican-led House passed a bill establishing 100 single-member districts in the state earlier this year, with some Democrats arguing the new map gerrymanders the state.
“I would like to see more governments follow a program for completely nonpartisan, unbiased redistricting that associates populations based on their density and relative geographic area and not based on voter base,” Tucker said. “If you win, you win.”
The new House of Delegates district map is set to go into effect in 2023.
Reporting by Eastern Panhandle Reporter Shepherd Snyder
Southern West Virginia
School board elections are taking center stage across the state. Teachers are just one group who turned out to vote in Mercer County. Lauren Rocchetti lives and votes in Mercer County. Like many educators, Rocchetti teaches in a neighboring county. As a teacher, Rocchetti wanted to have a say in the county Board of Education election.
“What brought me out to vote is the board [of education] members,” Rocchetti said. “To help make Mercer County Schools a better place and have a say in what goes on in the election and our area.”
West Virginians are exercising their civic duty by voting in primary elections across the state.
“I just always vote. That's it. I just vote,” said retired school teacher Mary Hopkins. "I believe it's my duty as a citizen of the country.”
As an educator for 38 years in Mercer County, Hopkins has seen a power shift with new members elected to the school board but didn’t notice a lot of change throughout the years. As the county board of education elections are determined across the state, Hopkins said the real impact comes from the teachers.
“To me, the impetus for new programs come from the teachers themselves,” Hopkins said. “And from their supervisors. And then, of course, the Board of Education has to think about it, study the programs that are being presented and decide whether or not they think that's a good way to go forward.”
Deborah Baxter is also a retired school teacher who practiced her civic duty to vote in the primary election.
“Well, I was very curious to see who was going to be on the ballot,” Baxter said after she left her polling place. “I'm a Republican, and there's not a lot of people on the ballot. So I just wanted to make sure I got my vote.”
Reporting by Southern Coalfields Reporter Jessica Lilly
Reporter David Adkins spoke with the Wayne County Clerk Renick Booth Tuesday on how redistricting has affected rural West Virginians. Although he voted early, Booth was present 100 feet outside the Wayne Recreation Center, mingling with tailgating constituents across the street.
Booth said redistricting was a messy process. Wayne County was able to organize its precincts last month, but redistricting has created some confusion amongst local residents.
“Some voters who aren't satisfied; they've got new precincts to go to and I can't blame them," Booth said. "They voted on that other precincts for many, many years and then all of a sudden it had to change.”
Booth said that what matters most to him this election cycle is keeping a fair election, and he believes that’s exactly what West Virginia is doing.
Adkins also spoke with Huntington voter Angel Plant, 68, on Tuesday. Plant, who is a great-grandmother, said that political engagement is important because it doesn't just affect her, but will affect generations down the line.
“Write your representatives. Some of them will say, ‘Well they don't need to get back to you, they don't care,’ I say, ‘Yes they do.’ I've been doing this since way back in the 70s," Plant said. "Sometimes they are addressing my actual concerns so I know that somebody's listening … whether they do anything about it or not.”
Plant works with NAACP youth, and said she also encourages them to pay attention to policies that shape their community.
"A lot of the kids that we're working with are becoming of age now to be able to vote," Plant said. "You have to teach the basics, and why and everything that's going on now. Is it going to affect them later on."
Reporting by Huntington Reporter David Adkins
Monongalia County was home to one of West Virginia’s largest multi-member districts, sending five delegates to the West Virginia Legislature. Now, that same area is covered by six distinct, single-member districts.
For Arnettsville voter Debi Beard, that works out just fine.
"I think the western end of the county has always been underrepresented," Beard said. "So, you know, any representation we can get is a good thing."
On the other hand, Jordan Rinehart believes candidates like Democrat Evan Hansen could be even more influential under the new system.
"I actually am hoping he can get a little bit more done," Rinehart said. "That he's a little bit bigger noise in his group of people than we would have seen previously."
Primary voting in West Virginia is done on party lines, which can sometimes leave voters spectating on major decisions across the aisle.
Even with their own nominee to pick for the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, some registered Democrats like Kent Parker in Morgantown were more interested in the Republican primary race.
"I should have switched ballots because the Republicans have an interesting race with those two congressmen," Parker said. "But of course I didn't, because I'm a good Democrat."
In a field of five primary candidates, Republicans had two sitting House members to choose from Tuesday: David McKinley and Alex Mooney.
Some voters like Democrat Joe Evans seemed to believe they may have already missed out on choosing their next Congressman.
"I would have been for McKinley," Evans said. "But I’m registered Democrat so I couldn't vote for him. And it sounds like Mooney is going to get that nomination. So I guess I would have rather had McKinley in there."
Reporting by North Central West Virginia Reporter Chris Schulz
Polls in West Virginia close at 7:30 p.m.
Follow along with us on Twitter: @wvpublicnews