Update 11/05/2012 6:30 P.M.
While poll workers were lining up Monday to get their election day materials, election leaders in both Wood and Washington county were sizing up early voting totals.
Both were above 20% of the total registered voters in both counties. Wood County also had several community voting sites, but while turnout there was good as well, they may not be back again for a few years.
"My guess is that it's something we might do during presidential elections," said Jamie Six, Wood County Clerk, "but I don't know if it will warrant having it during off-year elections, because turnout always falls off. We'll give a report to the commissioners after the first of the year once we have the final numbers."
Despite the high early voting numbers, a high turnout is expected for tuesday's election. And it may be above the numbers of those who voted in the 2008 election.
"Our absentee (ballots) are about 600 above the absentees who voted in 2008," said Tara Hupp, Elections Director, Washington County. "The 72-73% (voter turnout projection) is about the number of people who turned out in 2008 to vote, though."
County Clerk Six, however, doesn't expect a long night of counting, saying the county's electronic voting machines will take roughly the same amount of time to process results as they have before.
Update: 10/25/2012 6:45 P.M.
Early voting began in the Mountain State more than ten years ago, and counties we have have spoken to agree- Wednesday's first-day numbers are records.
This can be attributed to a number of things. One is, of course, the presidential race this year.
Another is that, as we reported last week, the early voting period in West Virginia is shorter than it has been in the past.
A third factor is that, at least in wood county, there are a number of competitive races for offices such as mayor, county commission and county magistrate.
"We usually get 20% of our voter turnout during early voting, and it helps with the turnout on election day," says County Clerk Jamie Six. "And it's a convenience for those who are traveling, or kids in from college. And we'll be open (the last Saturdays before the election), from 9 to 5, so it will be a convenience issue for a lot of folks."
The first-day numbers from area counties:
Wood-1,040, a first-day record.
Pleasants-130, and Jackson, 509, the most ever in one day.
Ritchie-130, triple the normal number.
It is the second time since city charters were changed in 2005 that local elections in Parkersburg and Vienna were held on the same year as the presidential and West Virginia statewide elections.
Updated: 10/24/2012 5:40 P.M.
Lines formed at the Donald F. Black Annex before early voting began at 8:30 Wednesday morning. There were still lines there two hours later. In all likelihood, most people who voted were a lot like this man:
"I thought, ' I've got to end this misery and do my voting'," said voter David Haught. "It was so convienent, so I got it out of the way, and I'm really happy about it. I've done it before, but it's been a long time ago."
No doubt, the presidential election year is one reason for these lines. But there are a number of major local races and issues.
"We've got plenty of poll workers here; we've actually brought some of our staff from our other office to help," says Wood County Clerk Jamie Six. "So, we're going to do everything we can to make the process as quick as possible. We've got 16 machines set up, we have three computers to log them in, so we'll do everything we can to process."
And it's a sign election day will also be busy. But with other early voting sites opening next Tuesday, it's hoped the lines here and at election day precincts will be shorter.
"Then, we'll have five sites in the county," Six says, "and anyone can go to any of the locations in the county, regardless of where you live in Wood County, you can visit any of the community sites, or at the Judge Black annex, starting next Tuesday."
Unlike it's neighbor across the river, West Virginia is not a "battleground state". But this turnout indicates there's a lot on these voters' minds.
According to the secretary of state's office, there are 55,000 registered voters in Wood County, with almost an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. More than 11,000 are affiliated with "No Party".
Neighboring Pleasants county has 5,200 registered voters...with about 900 more Democrats than Republicans.
Early voting will be held Monday through Saturday until November third.
Hours are from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. weekdays, and 9 A.M.to 5 P.M. on Saturdays.
Community voting sites will be at the Lubeck and Mineral Wells fire stations, and at the Williamstown and Vienna city buildings.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia voters can begin heading to the polls to cast votes ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
Early voting begins Wednesday and runs through 5 p.m. on Nov. 3. Polls will be open on Saturdays.
In the 2008 election, more than 153,000 people cast early ballots. That was almost 22 percent of all of the votes cast in that election. Overall turnout was 58.7 percent.
Residents can check the early voting hours in their county on the Secretary of State's website at www.wvsos.com .
New voter registration totals show there are more than 1.2 million registered voters in the state, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans 640,000 to 358,000. More than 222,000 people registered with no party affiliation.
Eleven counties have more Republicans registered than Democrats, up from 10.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)