Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said teamwork among her office, state lawmakers, and county officials lead to a successful special election for the unexpired term of Senator Robert C. Byrd.
“Our office worked with so many people to make sure the citizens of West Virginia had the chance to vote,” Tennant said. “The work put in by so many people, including the county clerks and their staffs and the Secretary of State staff, is just incredible. We really do have some great election administrators in West Virginia. But there’s no time to rest. We have another election to do in just over two months.”
On July 19, the state legislature passed an amendment to state code to allow for a special election. The Secretary of State’s Office set an accelerated timeline that allowed for voter registration, candidate filing, early and absentee voting, and set the date for the special Election Day.
Senator Byrd died June 28 at the age of 92 after more than half a century of service in Congress.
Voting began with a fast pace in the special primary. During the five day early voting period, more than 30,500 people cast a ballot. By comparison, during the 15 days of early voting for the May primary about 40,000 people cast a ballot.
The heavy early voting turnout followed an increase in voter registration. About 6,400 people registered to vote from June 28 to August 9 deadline. By comparison, about 5,800 people registered to vote in that same time period in 2008 - a presidential election year.
Overall turnout for the special primary was about 12 percent.
“I am disappointed about that,” Tennant said. “I was really hoping for a higher number. We were all excited to see the voting registration and early voting numbers. Every election is important, but there was a great deal of interest in this one from the beginning. I expected it to be higher, but I am very glad there continues to be very dedicated citizens in West Virginia who vote in every election.”
The general election to fill the unexpired United States Senate term will be November 2.