WHEELING - West Virginia residents needing to register to vote in time for the Nov. 6 election must do so by the close of business today.
In Ohio County, election officers in the county commission office say they already have been doing a brisk business, as many new voters have come in to register. But Toni Chieffalo, coordinator of elections in Ohio County, pointed to the high number of absentee ballots being requested as an indicator turnout could be high for the election.
Past presidential elections brought in about 400 absentee votes, she said. On Monday - with still more than four weeks from Election Day - she estimated 500 absentee ballots already had been requested.
The requests are primarily coming from retirement homes and from college students. Chieffalo also has made an observation regarding new voter registration applications.
"I think a lot of the applications are coming from older people who have never registered to vote before," she said. "We can tell by looking at their birth date."
While voters may want to participate in shaping the political landscape, at least one person indicated her disappointment with the candidates this election year.
"This is a serious election," said Ohio County resident Martha Bamberger, who submitted her updated voter's registration application to the Ohio County Commission office Monday. "But I have been turned off by the negativity on both sides. The people will decide" how to vote.
"There's been too much grandstanding and tearing down of opponents. Instead, just tell us what you're going to do," she added.
Registration applications can be filled out at local courthouses, and voters registration offices can be reached at the following numbers: Brooke County, 304-737-3661; Hancock County, 304-564-3311; Marshall County, 304-845-1220; Ohio County, 304-234-3750; Tyler County, 304-758-2102; and Wetzel County, 304-455-8224.
Voter registration applications also can be mailed to county clerks or the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office, but they must be postmarked by Oct. 16 to be accepted.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said new voters who do register by mail to vote need to bring with them to the polls a current photo ID that shows their current address, or one of the following - a copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and current address.
"This ID requirement only applies to you if this is your first time voting after you registered by mail to vote," Tennant said. "If you have voted before, your identity is verified every time by your signing the poll book either at your polling place or at your early voting location."
There were 1,234,457 registered voters in West Virginia as of Oct. 2, according to figures compiled by the Secretary of State's Office. Among them are 637,893 registered Democrats; 354,593 Republicans; 217,585 registered with no party affiliation; 1,345 Mountain Party members; and 23,041 registered with another political party.
Early voting begins Oct. 24 across West Virginia, and includes two Saturdays: Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. There will be no early voting Oct. 28.