WEST VIRGINIA - West Virginia voters flooded into early voting polling locations Monday, hoping to cast their ballots before expected storms hit the area.
Election officials had encouraged residents to vote early before Hurricane Sandy, aka "Frankenstorm," was set to strike the East Coast, perhaps causing flooding and power outages locally. Early voting continues through Saturday in West Virginia.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced Monday that early voting was being suspended in Morgan County - located in the state's Eastern Panhandle - because the situation there was "too dangerous for people to risk their safety." The suspension is only for Tuesday, and it only affects voters in Morgan County.
"If you don't have to go out, stay inside and make sure you are ready for this storm," Tennant said. "Be mindful of high water, downed power lines and icy conditions. Please do not go out and risk your safety to try and make it to an early voting location.
"There are several more days of early voting and even Election Day, which is next Tuesday," she added. "Use your best judgment and stay off the roads if it's not safe."
If power goes out at an early voting location, the batteries on the iVotronic touchscreen voting machines used by local counties have enough power to run the machines for several hours, she noted. Power outages have been experienced in previous elections, but did not stop the elections process.
Tennant said her office is working on other voting options for people in case the power is lost at early voting locations for an extended period of time.
In Ohio County, Toni Chieffalo, coordinator of elections, said she and county Administrator Greg Stewart had discussed the issue and decided to wait before making any decisions pertaining to early voting.
"We have a generator and can continue early voting without power if we have to," she said.
On Monday, 379 had cast ballots by mid-afternoon in Ohio County. The total number to vote early there since early voting began last week exceeded 1,825 by the day's end. The county has 33,267 registered voters.
Marshall County officials said 252 voted there Monday, and that 1,414 have thus far cast early ballots in the county. Marshall County has 22,065 registered voters.
In Hancock County, 200 turned out to early vote on Monday, bringing the total number of early votes cast there to 1,015. There are 23,604 registered voters in Hancock County.
Brooke County saw 160 early ballots cast Monday, and there have been 906 to vote this election, workers reported. Brooke County has 17,846 registered voters.
Wetzel County saw 132 cast ballots Monday, and 891 have early voted there since last week. There are 12,760 registered voters in Wetzel County.
In Tyler County, 105 voted Monday, and 446 have cast early ballots there so far. The county has 6,165 registered voters.
Mountain State voters with questions about elections should call elections offices at these numbers: Brooke County, 304-737-3661; Hancock County, 304-564-3311; Marshall County, 304-845-1220; Ohio County, 304-234-3750; Tyler County, 304-758-2102; or Wetzel County, 304-455-8224.