Early voting begins today in both Princeton and Bluefield for those citizens who would like to cast a ballot in advance of the June 4 municipal elections.

Anyone who is registered to vote in Princeton or Bluefield can cast a ballot early. Early voting will continue through June 1 for both cities. The election is June 4 for both Bluefield and Princeton.

Early voting has been increasing in popularity in Princeton, according to Princeton City Clerk Ken Clay.

“It has increased a little bit every year since the Legislature first enacted it,” Clay said. “This is at least our third election with early voting.”

“If they can’t be here on June 4, we would hope they take advantage of early voting,” Bluefield City Clerk Bobbi Kersey said. “We would like to get as many people out as possible.”

Early voting in Bluefield will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at city hall Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, and Saturday, June 1.

Early voting in Princeton will be held Monday through Friday at city hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, and Saturday, June 1.

Absentee voting has been slow to date in both cities. Kersey said several absentee ballots have been requested in Bluefield, but only two have been returned so far. Absentee voting in the city ends on June 3. Residents who vote absentee must meet one of several requirements. However, early voting has no restrictions, and is open to all registered voters in the city.

Clay said only one absentee ballot has been requested to date in Princeton, and so far it hasn’t been returned.

Voters will choose among crowded ballots in both cities.

In Bluefield, 12 candidates are vying for five seats on the Bluefield Board of Directors.

In district one, incumbent board member Mary Frances Brammer is being challenged by Rev. Garry D. Moore Sr. and Barbara Thompson Smith. In district two, incumbent Mayor Linda Whalen is being challenged by Steven P. Coleman and Ellen Peters Light.

In district three, Michael Gibson is running unopposed — although David Smith’s name will still appear on the ballot. Smith, a public defender, has withdrawn from the race. However, it was too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, according to Kersey.

Five candidates are vying for the two at-large seats on the board. They include Thomas J. “Tom” Cole, Charles “Chuck” McGonagle, incumbent Pete Sternloff, Willie C. Hunt and Richard Lee Dillon.

In the city of Princeton, eight candidates are vying for four city council seats.

In ward one, incumbent Shawn Vest will face Jacqueline “Jackie” Rucker.

In ward two, incumbent Marshal V. Lytton is being challenged by Ryan B. Blankenship. In ward three, incumbent Chris Stanley is being challenged by Jim Harvey. In ward four, incumbent Tim Ealy is being challenged by Andrea Washington.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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