Given all the attention West Virginia’s special gubernatorial election is generating, it is our hope that area voters will take advantage of early voting.

Early voting continues through May 11 across southern West Virginia. While voter turnout has been somewhat slow to date, it is our hope that it will begin picking up. The special primary election is now only 10 days away, and 15 candidates are stumping for the state’s top job.

In Mercer County, 638 early ballots had been cast as of Thursday evening, according to County Clerk Verlin Moye. Moye said that puts Mercer County on track to have a better turnout than the 2010 special U.S. Senate primary election.

Voters have two early voting precincts to utilize in Mercer County — the Mercer County Courthouse and the new satellite polling precinct at the Bluefield Recreation Center on Stadium Drive. This is the first election to offer Mercer County residents a second location for early voting.

It is our hope that residents of the Bluefield area, and surrounding communities, will take advantage of the satellite polling precinct. After all, citizens living in the Bluefield area no longer have to drive to Princeton to cast an early ballot.

Moye is hoping voter turnout will continue to increase as the May 14 special primary approaches. Voter registration officials would also like to see a large turnout on Election Day. However, the special primary is being held on a Saturday, so it remains to be seen whether this will help or hurt actual voter turnout.

In the meantime, early ballots can be cast at the courthouse in Princeton from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through May 11. Early ballots can also be cast at the courthouse on Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An early ballot can also be cast at the satellite polling precinct in Bluefield from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, early voting is not being held on Saturday at the recreation center due to previously scheduled events.

Early voting has proven to be a welcomed convenience for thousands across southern West Virginia in recent years, and it is our hope that large numbers will continue to take advantage of the option for the special primary election.

Please have a say in who will be the next governor of West Virginia. You can cast an early ballot today, or wait until Saturday, May 14, to vote. But whatever option you choose, please do vote.

With so many opportunities to vote, and so many candidates on the ballot, citizens have no excuse for not participating.

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