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Deadline for voter registration in West Virginia is Tuesday

April 19, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Tuesday is the last day for West Virginia residents to register to vote or change their political party affiliation before the May 11 primary election.

Berkeley County's voter registration office at 110 W. King St. in Martinsburg is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As of April 9, Berkeley County had 60,549 registered voters, including 22,401 Republicans, 22,245 Democrats, 135 Mountain Party members and 223 members of other parties. There were 15,545 people who were not affiliated with a political party, according to Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small Jr.'s office.

Early voting, an opportunity for voters to cast their ballots before election day, begins Wednesday at the voter registration office and continues through May 8, according to Small's office. Early voting hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and voters should have their registration cards with them. There is no early voting April 24 or 25, or May 2. Free parking will be available on the north side of West King Street for early voters.

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Small predicted Monday that turnout could be 30 percent to 35 percent because of the highly contested race for Berkeley County Council (formerly the Berkeley County Commission) and the state Senate race between Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, and Pat Murphy.

Small said he shared his prediction with Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant, the state's chief election officer, when she made a surprise visit to the Eastern Panhandle on Monday.

In May 2006, the last off-year, primary election, voter turnout in Berkeley County was the lowest in the state at 14 percent.

There are 12 candidates in the County Council race -- seven Republicans and five Democrats. Three candidates from each party will advance to the general election to decide three seats. In the May primary, four Berkeley County Board of Education seats also will be on the ballot. There are currently 10 candidates in the nonpartisan election.

Small said his staff this week is scheduled to begin training the 335 workers who are needed to open the polls on election day in the county's 65 precincts.

When the county used paper ballots, there were 10 poll workers per precinct, Small recalled.

Eight people are needed to staff early voting and Small said four additional people are trained to serve as alternates.

Voting questions may be directed to the voter registration office at 304-264-1923.

Sample Republican and Democratic Party primary ballots and a list of polling places can be viewed at http://www.berkeleycountycomm.org.

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