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Voters face plenty of choices in Eastern Panhandle

November 07, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The debates over how local population growth should be managed and how statewide issues such as tax reform and how higher teacher salaries should be addressed will come into focus today as voters head to the polls to decide which candidates they feel will best deal with the challenges.

Voters in the three Eastern Panhandle counties will get the chance today to cast ballots in races for county commission, state lawmaker and U.S. Congress.

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In the county commission races, the campaigns have dealt largely with population growth and how it should be managed in coming years.

In races such as the House of Delegates, the issues have centered around how to get higher pay for Eastern Panhandle teachers to prevent more of them crossing state lines for higher pay and how to reform state business taxes to allow businesses to flourish.

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In Berkeley County, voting officials are thinking that as many as 40 percent of the county's registered voters could turn out today to cast ballots, said Bonnie Woodfall, supervisor of the Berkeley County Voter Registration Office.

Forty percent would be a good turnout, given that the figure in some general elections hovers around 20 percent, Woodfall said.

Although Morgan County has had a good early voter turnout with 817 ballots cast, Cathy Payne, the chief deputy in the Morgan County Clerk's Office, said Monday she did not want to make a prediction about voter turnout.

Matt Barney, deputy clerk in the Jefferson County Clerk's Office, said Monday his office had not discussed a turnout projection, but said the county was close to 10 percent turnout already given absentee voting that has taken place and the 2,383 votes that have been cast in early voting.

In Berkeley County, 3,037 people voted early.

Some voters will be voting in different precincts today.

In the May 9 primary election in Jefferson County, voters in the Huntfield, Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing subdivisions were allowed to vote in the wrong state House of Delegates races.

The mix-up did not affect any races in the districts in the primary election because there was no opposition in the races.

Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan, whose office oversees local elections, said the mix-up stemmed from annexations that have shifted county residents to municipal districts.

The problem has been corrected and voting officials said earlier that affected voters would be notified of the proper precinct to vote in.

In May, Huntfield residents voted in precinct two, which is Wright Denny Elementary School, but today Huntfield residents will vote in precinct 22, which is South Jefferson Elementary School along Summit Point Road, Barney said.

Briar Run and Fairfax Crossing residents voted in Ranson Elementary School, which is precinct seven, in the primary election. Today, those residents will vote in precinct 12, which is Jefferson High School, Barney said.

There are no precinct changes in Berkeley County.

In Morgan County, voters who typically cast votes at the Morgan County Courthouse, which burned earlier this year, will do so at the magistrate building on Fairfax Street, Payne said.

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