West Virginia is among the states where this year’s general election early and absentee voting numbers have already exceeded those from the 2014 midterms.
As of Thursday morning, 121,679 West Virginians had voted early or submitted an absentee ballot for the general election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
By comparison, at the end of the 2014 general election, the state counted 97,388 early votes, and in 2010, that number was 108,264.
Marie Hill, the deputy clerk in Mercer County described turnout as “very heavy” there since its four early-voting sites opened Oct. 24.
“We had like 3,700 early voters in 2014, and this year we’ve had already 5,500 — and we still have another day to go,” she said Friday morning. “So we’ll probably reach maybe even 7,000.”
An apparent increase in voter engagement isn’t unique to West Virginia, said Michael McDonald of the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida.
“There are some people who are voting earlier than they may have in past elections, but that’s not the whole story,” he said.
West Virginia’s Senate race has been among the most closely watched this year. Incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, is facing Republican state attorney general Patrick Morrisey, who has the backing of President Donald Trump.
The state’s three congressional districts, two state Supreme Court seats and a number of state and local races are on the ballot, too, as well as two constitutional amendments.
Election Day is Tuesday, and early voting ends Saturday. Early voting locations and times are at www.GoVoteWV.com.