There were record breaking numbers of early voters in West Virginia this primary election, and polling workers in Jefferson County said that was a bit of a blessing in disguise because there were also record breaking wait times at some polling places.
Poll workers said a lot of the tally traffic was driven by longer ballots. The average republican voter needed about 15 minutes to cast their five page long ballot because they had to vote for 22 delegates to the national convention.
Many voters miscounted up to 22 and that resulted in a record amount of spoiled ballots. Then those ballots were void and those voters had to cast their ballots again to make sure their numbers were correct.
Polling officials said in the end, the record breaking numbers of early voters really made a difference in wait times.
Politicians said the higher amount of early voters is a positive change for West Virginia.
“The West Virginia turnout has historically been very low, and so, the higher we can get it through early voting and other means, I encourage that. So, I was actually pleased to see that, and I hope when the final numbers come out, they are going to be very positive,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.
There were a few tight races in Jefferson County. The run for governor drew a razor thin line on the Democratic side.
Candidate Jim Justice garnered the largest percent of the votes at roughly 37 percent, Jeff Kessler had 34 percent and Booth Goodwin received 28 percent. The Republican candidate, Bill Cole, ran unopposed.
Other races, like the race for the 16th District State Senate Seat between David Manthos and Stephen Skinner were not so narrow.
“The folks in Jefferson and Berkeley County are looking for someone who will go to Charleston and be willing to work across party lines to create a better economy for the Eastern Panhandle and for the state,” Stephen Skinner, delegate for the 67th district said.
Most polling places were supposed to close up shop around 7:30 p.m., but because there were so many spoiled ballots, the last precinct closed up around an hour later than expected.