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Superstorm still playing a role in W.Va. election

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The recovery from last week's hurricane/blizzard that crippled parts of West Virginia could be the Election Day wild card.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, however, said Monday that based on early voting turnout, she anticipates today's turnout will be close to figures for the 2008 general election -- despite superstorm Sandy.

A total of 150,666 ballots were cast during early voting, which ended at 5 p.m. Saturday.

That's down 2,023 early voting ballots from 2008, but Tennant noted that, not only was early voting suspended in some hard-hit counties because of the blizzard, but there were five fewer days scheduled to early vote this year.

"When people see their precincts are open ... they will get out and vote," she predicted.

As of Monday afternoon, 14 precincts in Preston, Upshur, Lewis, Randolph and Tucker counties had been moved to temporary locations, while four precincts in Barbour and Tucker counties will use National Guard-supplied tents on-site to provide electricity and heat.

Another concern, Tennant said, is that 16 secondary roads in the hard-hit counties remained closed as of Monday morning.

"We're hopeful that with a sunny day today, by tomorrow morning we'll have more clear roads," Tennant said Monday. 

@brfs:Getting the vote out

@bod:State Democratic and Republican parties also will have get-out-the-vote efforts geared up today.

"We're working hard to get our people out to vote," Democratic Party executive director Derek Scarbro said Monday.

He said the party is arranging rides to the polls statewide, and said party supporters have made over 200,000 phone calls reminding Democrats to vote.

Likewise, state Republican Party chairman Conrad Lucas said the GOP has had eight victory centers operating in the state since the summer, and said volunteers at those centers have contacted more than 300,000 potential voters.

He said he expects voter turnout to be close to, or slightly exceed the 2008 general election.

"Ultimately, voter motivation and excitement on our side is very high, and we think our voters will make it to the polls tomorrow," he said Monday.

Tennant, meanwhile, encouraged voters to report any voter fraud or suspicious activity by calling the secretary of state's hotline at 1-866-767-8683.

"We have strong election laws in West Virginia, and we will adhere to those laws," she said.

@brfs:Who are the state's electors?

 

@bod:Among the key decisions West Virginians will be making today is whether to vote for John F. McCuskey or Jennifer McPherson, Betty Ireland or Reva Mickey, David Tyson or Jon Blair Hunter, Mick Staton or Tom Vogel and Sarah Minear or Virginia Mahan.

With two exceptions, voters won't find those names on the ballot. (Sen. Hunter is up for re-election in the 16th Senatorial District, while McCuskey's son is running for House of Delegates in Kanawha County.)

No, those 10 individuals were selected at state Democratic and Republican party conventions this summer to serve as West Virginia's presidential electors.

Depending on the outcome of today's popular vote for president, five of those individuals will meet at the state Capitol on Dec. 17 to cast West Virginia's five electoral votes for either Barack Obama and Joe Biden, or Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

The Republican electors, committed to the Romney/Ryan ticket, were selected in recognition of their service to the party: McCuskey served briefly as a state Supreme Court justice, Ireland was secretary of state, Tyson is a former state GOP chairman, Staton is a former congressman, and Minear was a three-term state senator.

Besides Hunter, the Democratic electors, who would voting for Obama/Biden, are Delegate Mahan, D-Summers, an eight-term delegate who is not running for re-election; Vogel, former state party executive director and former West Virginia Education Association president who currently works as director of financial education for Treasurer John Perdue; McPherson, a House legislative analyst and vice president of West Virginia Young Democrats; and Mickey, Jefferson County Democratic chairwoman and a schoolteacher.

While the presidential race may be a dead-heat nationally, the races generating the most attention, and most political advertising, in West Virginia are for attorney general and for two seats on the state Supreme Court.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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