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Following Record-Setting Turnout, West Virginia Early Voting Coming to Close

WHEELING — Saturday is the final day to early vote in West Virginia prior to Tuesday’s general election.

Voters have until 5 p.m. to cast their in-person early vote at local courthouses.

Outstanding absentee ballots, meanwhile, must be returned to elections offices by the close of business on Monday. If the absentee ballot is being mailed, it must be postmarked by Tuesday, and received by the start of canvass on Nov. 9.

In-person polls on Election Day open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office released figures Friday detailing the number of state voters that already have cast ballots — either by absentee ballot or in-person early voting.

There have been 327,189 votes already received for the election across West Virginia. Among these were 128,744 absentee ballots, and 198,445 early votes with Friday and Saturday in-person voting numbers not included. The vote total already collected represents nearly 26 percent of the state’s registered 1,268,460 voters.

West Virginia had a turnout rate of 57.4 percent for the 2016 election.

Local voting continued at a brisk pace on Friday, according to county elections officials.

— Ohio County elections coordinator Toni Chieffalo said 8,955 ballots had been received in Ohio County by late afternoon Friday, and among these were 4,685 absentee ballots and 4,270 early votes.

There are 30,994 voters in Ohio County, and about 29 percent of the vote has already been submitted.

Ohio County’s turnout was 61.4 percent for the 2016 presidential election.

“I think it will be steady on Election Day, but I don’t think it will be crazy,” Chieffalo said. “It has been amazing so far.

“I would love to see a 70 percent turnout, but I have no idea.”

Ohio County sees two contested county races. Commissioner Tim McCormick, a Democrat, faces Republican Zach Abraham. And Assessor Tiffany Hoffman, a Democrat, goes up against Republican Katrina Taylor.

Two Wheeling residents are vying for the U.S. House seat representing West Virginia’s 1st District. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-West Virginia, sees a challenge from Democrat Natalie Cline.

Voters also will elect a state senator to represent District 1 from between Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, and Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock.

Also on the ballot is a contested District 3 delegate race, where two will be elected. Candidates are delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, Republican Dalton Haas and Democrat Ben Schneider.

Wheeling and Bethlehem will be asked to consider the renewal of Ohio Valley Regional Transit Authority bus levies.

“People are coming in to early vote,” Marshall County Clerk Jan Pest said. “There has been a lot more than in the primary.”

The number of people already casting ballots in Marshall County had exceeded 5,400 just after the start of in-person voting on Friday. This is about 25 percent of the county’s 21,417 registered voters.

Voter turnout for the 2016 presidential election was 64.5 percent in Marshall County.

What is different this year in the COVID era is that voting isn’t taking place in small community centers, but mostly in sanitized school buildings in Marshall County. Pest said this should make voters feel more confident coming out on Election Day.

Marshall County voters see a contested race for the District 2 state Senate seat between Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, and Democrat Josh Gary.

Two will be elected in a District 4 delegate race from among Delegate Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, fellow Democrat Christian Turak, and Republican Charlie Reynolds.

Moundsville also will be electing council members.

— The data from the Secretary of State’s Office released early Friday shows Hancock County receiving 2,196 absentee ballots and having 2,066 early votes. This is a total of 4,262 votes submitted.

There are 23,998 registered voters in Hancock County, for a turnout total so far of just under 18 percent. Updated information from the Hancock County Clerk’s office was not available late Friday afternoon.

Turnout in Hancock County was 51.7 percent in 2016.

County voters will choose a commissioner from between Commissioner Joe Barnebei, a Democrat, and Republican Eron Chek.

There also is a race for the District 1 delegate seat, where two will be elected. The candidates are Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock; Republican Mark Zatezalo, and Democrats Ronnie Jones and Jack Wood.

— Brooke County had 2,400 early voting as of late Friday afternoon, and has received 1,595 early absentee ballots.

The county has 19,164 registered voters, and about 21 percent already have submitted ballots.

Turnout in Brooke County for the 2016 election was 51.4 percent.

A sheriff will be elected on Tuesday in Brooke County from between Republican Richard Beatty and Democrat Kevin L. Heck.

Also on the ballot is a race for the District 2 delegate seat between Delegate Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, and Republican Gordon Greer.

— Wetzel County reported 1,527 early votes as of Friday afternoon with 908 absentee ballots for a total of 2,435 votes submitted. There are 10,221 registered voters in the county, and this accounts for about 24 percent of voters.

Wetzel County’s turnout for the 2016 presidential election was 53.9 percent.

The county has a contested race for commissioner between Democrat Carla McBee and Independent candidate Allen Rush.

A District 5 delegate race pits Delegate David Pethtel, D-Wetzel, against Republican Phillip Wiley.

— The Secretary of State ‘s Office information shows Tyler County with 486 absentee ballots received and 906 early voting. This is a total of 1,393 votes submitted so far from 6,643 registered voters.

Turnout as of early Friday in Tyler County was about 21 percent. Overall turnout for the 2016 election was 56. 7 percent in Tyler County.

Tyler County has no contested county races.

Voters, though, will elect a District 6 delegate from between Delegate David L. Kelley, R-Tyler, and Democrat Cindy Welsh.

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