Dem, GOP Voters Nearly Even in W.Va.
Overall Number Of State Voters Is Down
WHEELING — Democratic numbers are decreasing while Republican numbers have increased in West Virginia as the 2020 election year begins, although the overall number of registered voters in the state is down.
The state has 32,393 fewer registered Democrats than it did one year ago, and has lost 83,119 Democrat voters since the 2016 presidential election, according to numbers from the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
The same figures, meanwhile, also show an uptick in the number of Republican registrations during the same time period in West Virginia. GOP registrations jumped by 5,540 between December 2018 and December 2019, and have increased by 13,325 since the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016.
The rate of non-party registrations has largely remained steady.
The overall number of voter registrations in West Virginia is decreasing — largely due to both declining population and increased efforts by county clerks and the Secretary of State’s Office to clear registration roles of invalid registrations, according to elections officials.
As of Dec. 31, there were 488,148 Democrats and 411,872 Republicans in West Virginia, and a total of 1,225,201 registered voters across the state. This compares to November 2016, when there were 571,267 Democrats, 398,547 Republicans and 1,276,785 registered voters in West Virginia
The state-wide trends hold true in the Northern Panhandle, where all counties have lost Democrat registrations since 2016, and the overall number of voter registrations has decreased.
Five of the six counties also have more Republican voters than they did in 2004, with Wetzel County being the exception.
Wetzel County lost a note-worthy 1,351 Democrats in 2019, but also has 264 fewer Republicans. Overall voter roles decreased by 1,938 during the last year as voting roles were purged.
At the start of 2020 Wetzel County had 4,893 Democrats, 2,689 Republicans and 9,833 registered voters. In November 2016, there were 6,757 Democrats, 2,816 Republicans and 12,004 registered voters.
“We’ve noticed the trend of people switching their politics,” Wetzel County Clerk Carol Haught said. “We’ve also been working with the Secretary of State’s Office on the process of eliminating people from our roles who should have been eliminated — those who have died or moved.
“Also, our population is declining, and therefore voter registration is declining.”
There have always been more registered Democrats in Wetzel County, so there was a larger number of Democrat registrations eliminated from the roles, she said.
Ohio County — the largest of the Northern Panhandle counties — presently has 11,640 Democrats, 10,011 Republicans and 29,810 registered voters. This compares to four years ago, when the county had 12,630 Democrats, 9,765 Republicans and 30,144 registered voters.
In Marshall County, voter registration clerk Connie Howard said elections workers definitely have noticed traditional Democrats changing their registration to Republican or non-party affiliations.
“We’ve had Democrat registrations come in, but overall the Democrats have lost more than they’ve gained,” she said. “I’m curious how this is going to play out statewide.”
Marshall County has 8,357 Democrats, 6,920 Republicans, and overall voter registrations of 20,693, as of Dec. 31. In November 2016, the county boasted 9,434 Democrats, 6,639 Republicans and 21,294 registered voters.
Brooke County voter registration clerk Pam Northcraft said while voters there have been changing their voter affiliation, they still will vote for the candidate they think best when they go to the polls in November regardless of party.
“We’ve had some come in and change from Democrat to Republican so they could vote for Trump in the primary,” she said. “They have said they don’t like what’s going on with the impeachment.”
Current registration numbers show Brooke County with 9,110 Democrats, 5,104 Republicans and 18,755 registered voters. In 2016, the numbers there showed 10,142 Democrats, 4,734 Republicans and 19,048 registered voters.
Hancock County current voter registration totals show the county has 10,764 Democrats, 7,555 Republicans and 23,907 registered voters. There were 12,618 Democrats there in 2016, 7,150 Democrats and 24,996 registered voters.
Tyler County is the only local county where Republicans have historically outnumbered Democrats, and GOP registrations have slightly increased there since the 2016 election while Democrat ones have decreased.
There are presently 1,686 Democrats in Tyler county, 3,172 Republicans and 6,575 registered voters. In November 2016, the county had 1,961 Democrats, 3,125 Republicans and 6,629 registered voters.