Thirty Percent Voter Turnout in West Virginia Primary

The West Virginia primary voter turnout was an abysmal 30 percent.

Only 360,175 citizens voted on May 14 out of a total registered voter pool of  1,181,437.

In Morgan County, only 3,743 out of a total of 13,654 voters cast their ballots (27 percent.)

Grant County had a statewide high of 40 percent voter turnout while neighboring Berkeley County had a statewide low of 18 percent.

Out of the total West Virginia population of 1.8 million, there are 1.4 million eligible voters – but only 1.18 million are registered – 478,000 Republicans, 358,000 Democrats, 293,000 no party and 50,000 or so are registered with other parties.

Why is that voter turnout was so low?

One reason – little or no choice.

Let’s look the 100 races for House of Delegates and the 17 race for State Senate.

In the Senate races, Democrats literally had no choice statewide. 

Of the 17 races, eight seats had no Democratic candidate and nine had one candidate. Seventeen races for Senate — no choice.

On the Republican side, one Senate race had no candidate, eight had one candidate and 8 had more than one candidate.

Now let’s look at House of Delegates where there are 100 seats.

For Democrats, out of the 100 races, 41 had no candidates, 55 had only one candidate and only four had a choice of more than one candidate.

That’s 96 percent of the races with no choice.

On the Republican side, 61 had one candidate, 2 had no candidates and 37 had a choice of more than one candidate.

Here’s another problem that cropped up in Morgan County, experienced by yours truly and my wife.

When we went to vote, there was a new system. After voting, a printed ballot was spit out of the machine. We were told to take the printed ballot to a gentleman manning a table outside the voting room. He took the ballot and he could easily see how I voted. 

He ripped off the bottom and handed the ballot back to me and said – stick it in that machine. 

The same thing happened to my wife.

We look at each other afterwards and had the same thought – he could see how we voted.

We rang up the Secretary of State’s office to discuss this with them.

Luckily, we reached the chief of staff, Donald Kersey and explained the situation.

“He shouldn’t have had the ballot face up, he should have had it face down,” Kersey said.

After consulting with the new law on the subject (WV Code 3-4a 19j), Kersey said that in fact the law requires that the county provide a little plastic sleeve that covers the ballot but leaves the bottom stub to be torn off. 

Kersey said that the sleeve provides the privacy necessary and the stub is an accounting measure so the county can count the number of ballots and make sure it matches the number of stubs.

As for why this didn’t happen at our precinct, Kersey said – “it’s a training issue.”

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