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Absentee voters swamp polls

October 30, 2000

Absentee voters swamp polls



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Absentee voters are flooding the polls in Jefferson and Berkeley counties, election officials said.

As of Monday afternoon, 520 county residents had cast absentee ballots in the Jefferson County circuit clerk's office, said Circuit Clerk Patsy Noland.

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Noland said that that's the highest number of absentee ballots cast in the county in recent history.

The previous record was 350 absentee ballots, cast in 1996 when voters approved video lottery for the Charles Town Races, a big economic issue for the county at the time, Noland said.

Noland attributed the big interest in this election to the close race for U.S. president, as well as local and state races, including for governor of West Virginia.

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Noland said she has been so busy handling absentee voting for the last two weeks that her staff has had a hard time keeping up with their regular duties. The circuit clerk's office handles all the court files from Jefferson County Circuit Court.

"I've re-ordered ballots three times because this was so unexpected. We've been averaging about 40 voters a day," Noland said.

Four voting booths are set up in the circuit clerk's office on George Street, and a steady stream of voters were there Monday afternoon.

Voters can cast absentee ballots before an election if they know they will not be in the county the day of the election.

Voters can cast absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 general election in person at the circuit clerk's office through this Friday. County voters who are living outside the county can also request that absentee ballots be mailed to them.

Absentee ballots sent back to the circuit clerk's office by mail must be postmarked by Election Day to be counted, Noland said.

In Berkeley County, about 800 absentee ballots have been cast, also one of the highest numbers in recent history, according to Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine.

Berkeley County registered about 7,000 new voters this year, bringing the number of voters there to about 39,000. Jefferson County has registered about 1,000 new voters, bringing the county's total number of voters to 21,372, Noland said.

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