01 May 2008

Early Voting In W.Va.

West Virginia completed its opening week of early voting with nearly 18,400 ballots cast, The Associated Press reports.

About 72 percent of the voters have been Democrats, according to the figures culled by the secretary of state's office from 51 of 55 counties.

The 2008 primary marks the first time that unaffiliated voters can cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican Party. But to avoid swaying these voters over which ballot to choose, poll workers aren't allowed to remind them of that option. They must instead request a partisan ballot, or with otherwise be given a nonpartisan one.

As a result, Public Broadcasting reports, "At least two Barack Obama supporters found out too late they can’t vote in the Democratic primary however – because they didn’t ask for the right type of ballot." (Audio here.)

The Charleston Gazette is also reminding independent and nonpartisan voters that they must request
Democratic, Republican or Mountain Party ballots.

AP found that by Wednesday, "only 5.8 percent of all early ballots cast have been from unaffiliated or independent voters." As for unaffiliated voters casting the "wrong" ballot, AP reports that "clerks in the state's five largest counties - Kanawha, Berkeley, Cabell, Wood and Raleigh - report no or very few such complaints."

"These counties are also reporting just a handful of nonpartisan ballots," the article said. "Berkeley County has collected two out of more than 600 votes cast, for instance, while Raleigh County has had 10 out of nearly 500 early ballots."

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