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Voter Registration Deadline Looms As Republicans Inch Closer to Majority

CHARLESTON — West Virginians who want to register to vote in the 2020 general election or change their voter registration information have less than a week to do so.

The Secretary of State’s Office reminded voters Wednesday that the deadline to register or make changes to registration information is Tuesday. West Virginians need to be registered voters to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, to cast a ballot during the early voting period between Oct. 21 and Oct. 31 or to request an absentee ballot by the Oct. 28 deadline for absentee ballot requests.

Oct. 13 also is the deadline for registered voters to make changes to voter registration information, such as updating addresses if the voter has moved, if they’ve changed names since the last time they registered to vote or wish to switch political parties.

Residents wishing to register to vote or voters who want to make sure the information on their voter registration is correct are encouraged to contact the county clerk in the county where they live. People can also visit GoVoteWV.com, where they can register to vote, make changes to their voter registration and find poll locations and sample ballots.

“Please don’t wait until the last minute to register to vote,” Secretary of State Mac Warner said. “Call your county clerk for a paper registration form or go online to GoVoteWV.com. It really is just that easy in West Virginia.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has worked with all 55 county clerks on voter roll cleanup over the last three years, eliminating 192,000 voters from the rolls who were either deceased, duplicate registrations, people who moved out-of-state or felons still completing their sentences. During that same time period, approximately 201,000 West Virginians have registered to vote, with many being eligible teenagers. The state has 1,251,590 registered voters as of the end of September.

Political party registration also is changing in West Virginia. A one-time solidly Democratic state, the Republican Party has caught up to the Democratic Party in voter registrations and is close to becoming the majority party in the state.

According to the most recent voter registration report from the Secretary of State’s Office for the end of September, 37.5 percent of West Virginians were registered with the Democratic Party, while 35.7 percent were registered as Republicans, a difference of 1.8 percent. In August, the difference between Republican and Democratic Party registration was 2.8 percent. When the deadline for voter registration closed for the June 9 primary on May 19, the difference between the two major parties was 4.1 percent.

The drop in Democratic Party voter registration becomes more distinct when compared to registration numbers for September 2016 prior to the 2016 presidential contest between former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump. Then, there were 45.4 percent of West Virginians as registered Democrats, 7.9 percent more than last month and 30.7 percent registered as Republicans.

In other registration categories, 26 percent of registered voters either list no party affiliation or other, .67 percent are registered with the Libertarian Party, and .19 percent are registered with the Mountain Party.

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