Live Blog: West Virginia Primary Election 2020
LIVE RESULTS: Live Blog: Primary Election 2020 | U.S. Presidential Primaries|W.Va. Gubernatorial Primaries|U.S. Senate Primaries| U.S. HousePrimaries| W.Va. Senate Primaries | W.Va. House of Delegates Primaries | W.Va. Supreme Court Elections
Today is primary Election Day in West Virginia. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, state officials delayed the state's May 12 primary, allowing all registered voters to request an absentee mail-in ballot.
Tuesday, June 9 at 10:25 p.m.
Results for the 2020 primary are coming in across West Virginia tonight. Many races are still too close to call; however, some winners in the larger races have been unofficially declared.
Noteworthy wins are as followed:
- President, Republican: Donald Trump
- President, Democrat: Joseph Biden
- W.Va. Governor, Republican: Jim Justice
- U.S. Senate, Republican: Shelley Moore Capito
- U.S. House of Representatives, 1st Congressional District, Democrat: Natalie Cline
- U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd Congressional District, Republican: Alex X. Mooney
- U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd Congressional District, Republican: Carol Miller
- W.Va. Commissioner of Agriculture, Republican: Kent Leonhardt [projected]
- W.Va. Commissioner of Agriculture, Democrat: Bob Beach [projected]
Tuesday, June 9 at 9:35 p.m.
Despite new measures put in place to protect voters from the coronavirus, Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney said overall, primary election day went fairly smoothly.
She said her office issued about 14,600 absentee ballots — 12 times the usual. At times, a staff of about 25 people helped process the requests. Still, today she said the polls were busier than expected.
“Actually, we're pleasantly surprised,” she said, speaking after polls closed Tuesday at the Monongalia County Election Center. “We had a steady stream of voters all day.”
Blaney said she expects voter turnout to be fairly close to the 2016 presidential primary where more than 24,000 citizens cast a vote. This year, she thinks it’ll be closer to 22,000 voters.
“But considering that we've been in a pandemic for the last two months, I think that we're doing pretty good,” she said.
Blaney also said if the General Election in November has to be conducted in a similar manner — with social distancing, masks and expanded mail in voting — she is confident Monongalia County can pull it off.
To keep poll workers and voters safe, voting officials provided face masks and face shields, hand sanitizer disinfecting wipes, and used UV sanitizers to cleanse pens and other instruments. Blaney said every evening the early voting sites across the county were sterilized and disinfected and they will be tomorrow as well.
“I think that what we're probably seeing is going to become the new normal for large gatherings such as elections, and this primary election, we've shown that we can do it,” she said. “We will probably leave in place many of the procedures that we put in place for this primary election. So absolutely. I think it's doable. We've proved tonight that we can do it, so I think it's fine.”
W.Va. Voters Weigh In On Voting During Coronavirus Pandemic
Today’s primary election is taking place during a historic global pandemic and the coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of the process. Changes began when state officials moved West Virginia’s primary back by nearly a month in order to allow all voters access to absentee voting and to give state officials more time to prepare for in-person voting.
In an interview Tuesday morning, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said the move seems to be paying off.
“I just couldn't be more pleased than I am right now with the cooperation between the clerks, the decisions that were made by the government early on to move the election, getting the PPE and the personal protective equipment out to the polling locations,” he said.
WVPB reporters checked in with voters at the polls about their decision to vote in person. At polling locations across the state, those we spoke to said poll workers were largely wearing masks and sometimes gloves and face shields. Hand sanitizer seemed prevalent and voting machines were spaced at least six feet apart.
Although not everyone who voted wore masks, Morgantown resident and nurse Jamie Boyce said when she voted, everyone did.
“There's definitely appropriate amounts of hand sanitizer and masks available for everybody,” said Boyce who voted at Morgantown High School Tuesday afternoon. “Everybody was spaced really well, and I really appreciated all the poll workers wearing masks as well. I felt comfortable in there.”
In the Northern Panhandle, voter Rodney Carter said he could empathize with voters who were concerned.
“Some people are scared to death. I watched the news last night. We have five new cases here in Ohio County. So it’s not like it’s going away. You really have to be careful.”
Shepherdstown voter Chris Brodrick said he felt safe voting in person, but his wife voted absentee.
“For me, I think, as long as you got a mask on and take precautions... I think it should be okay," he said.
But not everyone agreed the voting precautions were necessary. Berkeley County voter and Martinsburg resident Sharon Whitehead said she decided to vote in person over fears of potential voter fraud with absentee ballots. Election experts say fraud in mail balloting is slightly more common than in in-person voting, but it's such a small amount it's not statistically meaningful.
Nationwide, more than 113,000 Ameicans have died of the coronavirus. In West Virginia, there have 2,179 confirmed cases and 84 deaths, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Tuesday, June 9 at 9 p.m.
As votes are coming in across the state, multiple races within Raleigh County are shaping up to be close, according to County Clerk Daniel Moore.
Moore said the county magistrate race, which includes five divisions and 10 official candidates is an extremely tight race. The mayoral race is not as close, but is still up for grabs.
“But there's a lot of votes, you know, the precincts are starting to come in now. So there's a long way to go,” Moore said.
The Division 2 county magistrate race has been particularly divisive, with the Register Herald calling it “a mess.”Amongst the four candidates, there have been accusations ranging from falsifying resumes, harassment, nepotism and even a dead cat left in a candidate’s mailbox.
Former incumbent Steve Massie resigned in March after facing charges on ethical wrongdoing. However, he is still listed on the ballot, but has stated he will not accept the position if he collects the most votes.
Raleigh County Clerk Daniel Moore said he expects to have preliminary results by 10 p.m.
Tuesday, June 9 at 8:50 p.m.
Governor Justice held a press conference by phone just after polls closed across the state. Early results show Justice in the lead with about 65 percent of votes in the Republican primary race for Governor.
“Now... we’ll see how the outcome goes tonight, still got a long way to go. I know that. And absolutely all of us should feel that way. Cause we’re all grabbing the rope and running through the finish line together,” Justice said.
Justice also voiced his support of President Trump, and said he is proud of the way both Trump and Justice’s own administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
“West Virginia is poised to come out of this terrible pandemic economically in rock solid shape," Justice said.
West Virginia’s unemployment rates have continued to climb since March -- with recent data showing more than 15 percent of residents out of work.
Tuesday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Polls are now closed across the state. Visit the various links at the top of this post to see results from each type of race.
Tuesday, June 9 at 4 p.m.
Election officials in Berkeley and Jefferson said the day was slow, but they still saw a good turnout. Jefferson County Clerk Jacki Shadle said the county received more than 8,700 absentee ballot requests compared to between 400 and 500 absentee requests on average in past years.
Shadle said poll workers went through special COVID-19-related training before the primary. More than half of the workers they’d worked with in the past said they were in high-risk categories for contacting the virus and opted not to work this year, so Shadle's office partnered with Shepherd University to bring in several new poll workers in their early 20s.
Seeking a moderate in office, Shepherdstown voter Chris Brodrick said he voted for former vice president Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary.
“I think I've had enough of the extremists and people saying we need to go as far in one direction as we possibly can," he said. "So I'm strongly in favor of somebody who can try and unite all the people in the middle who’ve kind of had no voice.”
In Gilmer County, clerk Jean Butcher said her team provided paper towels, hand sanitzer and Q-tips at the polls, making sure workers had masks and voters waited at least six feet apart from one another. She said the county received more than 900 absentee ballot requsts.
"We normally only have about 30. It's crazy," she said.
Tuesday, June 9 at 2 p.m.
In Mercer County, before polls opened this morning, a car accident damaged a light pole on Thorn Street in Princeton. County Clerk Verlin Moye said it caused the power to go out in three voting precincts -- CASE Thorn Center, Burke Memorial Baptist Church and the Nazarene Church. Moye said generators are being used and voting was not disrupted. The power will reportedly be restored later this afternoon.
Despite the outage, Moye said voter turnout in Mercer County has been “brisk” and higher than he expected given the coronavirus. He estimated that 65 percent of voters are wearing masks. All poll workers, however, are required to wear masks and maintain social distance.
Meanwhile in Raleigh County, County Clerk Daniel Moore said voter turnout is lower than he expected. Moore said that even though 9,000 residents voted absentee -- up from about 600 in the 2016 primary -- he is anticipating an overall lower total voter turnout than in 2016. Moore added that a lot of veteran poll workers cancelled at the last minute due to coronavirus concerns, but that “back up poll workers” have filled in.
Greg and Jamie Boyce of Morgantown just voted outside of Morgantown High School.
"I'm just the performing my civic duty and voting because I have the right to and the opportunity to," Greg Boyce said.
His wife said she look forward to the chance to "flex my civic duty muscle and do what everyone should be excited about.
"I think it's really important and I don't know if everybody takes the primary election as seriously as they do the General Election, but there's so many important things on the ballots. Even in the primary election that we really need to look at our candidates. See what they stand for and vote for who we really feel will represent us well."
Greg Boyce said he considered absentee but didn't request a ballot in time.
"I thought what the proper precautions coming out and voting in person was okay. And everything inside of the polling station was done really well, really safe, he said.
Tuesday, June 9 at 6:30 a.m.
Polls are now open across the state. Check back later for updates across the state and at 7:30 p.m. for results as they become available.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office reports that county clerks have so far received more than 210,000 absentee mail-in ballots — about 17.2 percent of West Virginia's registered voters. He said more than 40,000 voters went to the polls early today.
“I just couldn't be more pleased than I am right now with the cooperation between the clerks, the decisions that were made by the government early on the move the election, getting the PPE — the personal protective equipment — out to the polling locations. Voting seems to be going well all around the state," said Warner.
Despite the historic number of absentee requests, many West Virginians are still headed to the polls today to vote in the primary elections for president, governor, West Virginia Senate, West Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Today’s election also serves as the deciding tally for three open seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and other local judicial elections.
We’ll update this post throughout the day and into the night with what we’re learning from voters, candidates and election officials across the state. You can also to tune your radio to WVPB to hear the latest news during our normally scheduled afternoon newscast and at the top of every hour beginning at 6 p.m.