MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia voters began filling out ballots across the state Wednesday as early voting got under way for the Nov. 6 general election.
Early voting continues through 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, and the polls will be open on Saturdays to encourage turnout.
In 2008, more than 153,000 people cast early ballots for the general election. The Secretary of State's Office says that was almost 22 percent of all votes cast, and it helped lift overall turnout to 58.7 percent.
Republicans Marlin Longenecker, 79, and his 84-year-old wife, June, voted in downtown Charleston because they'll be on vacation the week of the election, visiting her son in Muskogee, Okla., and attending the West Virginia University football game at Oklahoma State.
Marlin Longenecker voted a straight Republican ticket, calling President Barack Obama "the worst one we've ever had."
He also criticized U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democratic incumbent who last year called on Obama to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
"I was a veteran," Longenecker said. "And I wasn't in favor of him saying he's going to bring all the troops home, because we need defense in this country. We need to protect our country."
In Morgantown, Ed and Lola Caldwell, both 78, wanted to avoid big Election Day crowds.
"The first day wasn't the one to come because the lines were pretty long," Lola Caldwell said as voters trickled in and out of the Mountaineer Mall election center. "But they moved pretty quickly."
More important than the convenience, though, was the chance to make a statement on what Ed Caldwell calls "Romnesia," embracing the term Obama coined to portray his opponent's shifting positions on various issues.
Obama, who is perceived as being an enemy of the coal industry, is widely unpopular in West Virginia, and Ed Caldwell acknowledged he may be in the minority in still supporting him.
"At least he's been fairly consistent," he said. "He hasn't changed his opinion every few days, and I think Romney has. I'm not sure what he'd be for next week.