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WV voter registration deadline nearing

Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer Mary Miller, voters supervisor, clears old voter information from a voting machine on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, in Huntington.
Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer
Mary Miller, voters supervisor, clears old voter information from a voting machine on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — There are four business days left for West Virginia citizens to register to vote in the 2016 general election.

The deadline to apply for a voter’s registration card is Tuesday, Oct. 18. To date, voter registration in West Virginia has increased compared to the same time in 2012.

As of July 2016, 1,250,079 people had registered to vote in West Virginia, compared to 1,234,367 who were registered for the 2012 general election, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.

 What’s different this year is, while there has been a decline in registered Democrats and an increase in registered Republicans, it’s the number of registered non-major party voters that has seen the biggest increase. It appears registered Democrats have shifted away from party lines.

Between 2000 and 2016, non-major party voters have gone from 9.2 percent of the registered voters in the Mountain State to 20.7 percent of registered voters.

During that same time frame, Democrats have gone from representing 61.8 percent of registered voters in 2000 to having just 45.9 percent of registered voters in 2016.

Republicans have remained steady, with 29.3 percent of West Virginia voters registering in the GOP in 2000, to 30.4 percent of voters signing on with the party in 2016, even as the GOP gained majority control of both houses of the West Virginia Legislature in 2014.

Whether they are changing parties or just changing addresses, even within the state, West Virginia residents have the opportunity to register online, although for citizens in two counties, an online application to register to vote still will require them to visit their local county clerk’s office.

Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole and Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick are processing the applications, but they are not allowing people to register entirely online.

“We’re not processing them directly off of online registration,” Cole said. “We’re mailing each one that applies through the online program a card for them to fill out to assure to us that the person making the application or changing that record is actually the person who owns that information.”

 Cole’s office in the Cabell County Courthouse is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and her office in the courthouse is the only place voter registration can take place in Cabell County. Voter registration is not available at the clerk’s field office in Ona.

Cole also appealed last week for anyone interested in being part of the election process by becoming a poll worker, saying she was experiencing a shortage of volunteers to oversee operations on Election Day.

Specifically, Cole said she was in need of registered Republican poll workers, saying she had a good turnout of Democrat and non-major party poll workers, but she still would accept Democrat and non-major party volunteers who were interested.

The last scheduled training to become a poll worker is Nov. 3, and anyone interested in becoming a poll worker can contact Cole by calling 304-526-8633 or 304-526-8626.

Cole said ideally, anyone interested in becoming a poll worker should contact her office by Oct. 31.

See more from The Herald-Dispatch. 

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