CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia liquor retailers have waited a long time to be able to sell liquor on an election day -- 148 years to be exact.
So they're ecstatic to be keeping their doors open when voters go to the polls Tuesday to elect a new governor in West Virginia.
Earlier this year, state legislators rescinded a law that prohibited liquor sales on election days. West Virginia's 178 liquor retailers pushed for the change.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Donnie Boggess, assistant manager at The Liquor Co. in Charleston. "It's a positive for customers, all the bars and the independent guys like us across the state. It really helps us."
The liquor sales ban dated back to the state's founding in 1863 and was designed to prevent swapping liquor for votes, among other things.
The secretary of state's office estimated that liquor retailers lost $1 million in sales during last year's U.S. Senate special election. The May 14 gubernatorial primary -- held after the new law passed but before it took effect -- also hurt sales significantly, retailers said.
In recent weeks, retailers have been talking to customers, spreading the word that they'll have regular hours Tuesday.
"Our store owners across the state have fully stocked shelves and appreciate the opportunity to conduct business," said Bridget Lambert, director of the West Virginia Retailers Association, a group that pushed for the repeal of the Election Day liquor ban. "It's refreshing that West Virginia has banished this antiquated law."
West Virginia was one of only a handful of states with such a ban until lawmakers repealed it during this year's regular session.
The ban only applied to bottled liquor sales; bars and restaurants could still serve liquor to customers. Those bars and restaurants, however, depend on retailers for liquor supplies.
Retailers buy liquor from the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration warehouse.