CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – With early voting still taking place for a few more days, some people might be wondering how polling locations are determined.
The question is especially important in Kanawha County because the majority of the early voting places are not in minority areas.
Early voting allows people who want to vote in-person to do so without the rush and crowds of election day.
There are eight early voting locations spread throughout Kanawha County. That’s two more than in the previous election. West Virginia law requires polling places based on population spread out through the district.
“First you have to find a place that will accommodate you. A lot of the time we use schools and churches,” Kent Carper, Kanawha Country Commissioner said.
Carper says COVID-19 has made things a challenge this year when it comes to facilities and staffing.
Many locations in minority areas, like Dunbar and Institute, are unavailable for early voting because they can’t accommodate 10 consecutive days of early voting. But, there are several voting locations in minority areas open on election day.
“Our biggest problem is to get poll workers. It’s very hard to get poll workers these days. We’re in the middle of a pandemic now. I’m worried we won’t have poll workers to open up the polls come election day,” Carper said.
The places that are selected for early voting have to also be in unbiased locations.
“You have to be very careful because you don’t want to have a place where it might favor one party or candidate over the other. So, we use city halls, schools, churches, some community centers and certainly places sometimes like the health department,” Carper said.
People have until this Saturday Oct. 31 to vote early. Wednesday was also the last day to request an absentee ballot and you need to get it postmarked by election day next Tuesday.