Early voting preparations under way in Wood County

PARKERSBURG — Early voting will begin Oct. 26 in Wood County.

The early voting location for Wood County will be at the Judge Black Annex at 315 Market St. in Parkersburg.

It will be open Oct. 26 through Nov. 5 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, said Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes.

“It is during normal courthouse hours,” he said.

On Saturdays, early voting will be conducted from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Early voting will be conducted Nov. 1-Nov. 5 at the four satellite voting precincts: Williamstown City Building, 100 West Fifth St.; Vienna City Building, 609 29th St.; Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, 1695 Elizabeth Pike; and Lubeck Volunteer Fire Department, 1340 Harris Highway.

Hours for the downtown and satellite sites will be the same, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.

“No matter where you live, you can vote at any of the sites,” Rhodes said. “If you live in Williamstown and work in Lubeck, you can vote at the Lubeck site and you will have the correct ballot.”

There are over 54,700 registered voters in Wood County. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 18.

If someone has changed their address, they can go to the early voting sites and officials can update the status and make sure the person votes in the correct precinct. They can then do the address change after the election. If someone comes to the polls on election day with a change of address, they can vote in their new precinct but the ballot will be part of the county’s canvassing process.

A lot of address changes and voter registration is being done online through the Secretary of State’s website at sos.wv.gov. Wood County is in the Top 5 in the state for online voter’s registration users.

“Many of those are just address changes,” Rhodes said.

If people register to vote online, they will have to show an ID when they go to vote. Having an ID is not yet required for all voters, but in 2018, all West Virginia voters will be required to show identification, Rhodes said.

Rhodes said it might be good for people to have it for the current election.

“If you have an ID, it would be good to have it handy,” he said.

At the polls, signature comparison is used to identify voters who have been voting in Wood County for a while. Voters have previously signed a poll slip.

“They bring up your signature that is on record,” Rhodes said.

In those instances, poll workers can still ask for someone to show an ID.

During the May primary, many voters had to wait as Republicans had 29 pages to go through to vote for delegates to the National Republican Convention. Voting then could take a half-hour or so to complete.

“The ballot is a lot shorter now than it was in the primary,” Rhodes said. “It should only take them a couple of minutes to get through the ballot, instead of the 30-35 minutes waiting that it took a lot of people.

“The lines should move a lot faster, if there is even a line. We are hoping there is not.”

Rhodes is expecting a bigger turnout for the general election than in the primary.

“General elections see a bigger turnout than primary elections by around a third more voters usually,” he said.

That is due, in part, to the election of the president; however Rhodes said there are a lot of local races people are interested in, including mayors and city councils.

“There may only be 400 or so people voting in a city council district,” Rhodes said. “They can be close.”

He is expecting the Vienna site to be busy because of the mayor and city council races.

“It will pick up and be busier there,” Rhodes said.

There are still people changing their party affiliation.

The County Clerk’s office continues to process absentee ballots.

“We are at 228 absentee ballots that have already been sent out,” Rhodes said. “That is about average for a presidential election.

“We normally do around 400 or so.:

People have to have the application for absentee ballots back in the County Clerk’s office by Nov. 2.

“It gives us the time to mail the ballot out for them to vote it and send it back to us,” Rhodes said. “Not everyone who applies for an absentee ballot qualifies.

“There are some conditions that have to be met. We look at those and review those as they come through. If they don’t qualify, we notify them.”

Some have involved people claiming they would be away for work, but the company they work for does not usually send people away where someone would not be able to go vote either during early voting or on election day.

“We would ask for clarification,” Rhodes said. “We take our absentee voting seriously just like we do all of our voting.

“It is one of those things that we want to make sure that there is not fraud going on.”

Most cases involve military personnel who will be out of state. People can call the County Clerk’s office and the office personnel can send them an application or people can print one off online.

“They have to be postmarked by Nov. 8, Election Day, for them to count,” Rhodes said.

For information about early voting, getting an absentee ballot or other question, call 304-424-1850.