Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 2, 2012

Vote early

Better weather provides options

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Now that the weather is finally beginning to improve across the region, area residents are once again being encouraged to take advantage of early voting.

Early voting in West Virginia, and absentee voting in Virginia, continue until Saturday. That means area residents hoping to avoid long lines at the polls next week can cast an early ballot either today or Saturday.

In Mercer County, early ballots can be cast through Saturday at both the Mercer County Courthouse and at the satellite polling precinct at the Bluefield City Auditorium. Thousands across Mercer County have already cast an early ballot — although the Halloween superstorm did slow early voting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Early voting also continues through Saturday at the McDowell County Courthouse in Welch and at both the Monroe County Courthouse and at the special satellite polling precinct at the 911 center in Union.

In person absentee voting also continues until Saturday in the battleground state of Virginia at the Tazewell County Courthouse, and other courthouses across Southwest Virginia.

A voter must meet one of 18 categories in order to qualify for casting an absentee ballot in Virginia. These qualifying requirements include a student being away at college on Nov. 6; a voter being out of town on personal business on Nov. 6; a voter having a disability or illness that would keep them from being able to vote on Nov. 6; or a voter currently serving in the military.

Voters in Virginia are also being reminded of changes to the voting process due to the passage of new Virginia voter ID laws. The new rules require voters to present an accepted form of ID at the polls in order to cast a ballot. For example, a voter’s ID, Virginia driver’s license or student ID card from any in-state Virginia college will be accepted.

We realize that some across our region who were hoping to cast an early ballot were impacted by the East Coast superstorm, and the accumulating snowfalls it brought to southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. But now the weather is beginning to break, and the snow is melting. Those who can vote early today or Saturday should certainly consider doing so.

But most importantly — please vote. It doesn’t matter if you cast a ballot early, or wait  until Tuesday to vote, as long as you do vote. There is too much at stake during this presidential election year to not cast a ballot.

In fact, the decisions awaiting voters this election season are critical. And every ballot cast will be of the utmost importance — both in West Virginia and the battleground state of Virginia. Please let your voice and opinion be heard regarding the region’s future by voting either now, or next Tuesday. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.