The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 25, 2012

Fayette sees large early voting turnout

The first day of early voting in West Virginia had voters lining up outside the Memorial Building in downtown Fayetteville. From energy to education, 356 total Fayette County voters on Wednesday found a range of issues hanging over their heads in the voting booth.

“I believe in voting,” says Debra Elmore, the first in the county to cast her ballot in the general election. “That’s why I was first in line. I want my vote to count and I want my voice heard.”

Three early voting locations — one in each of the county’s districts — offer Fayette voters plenty of options this year.

Hours at Fayetteville's Memorial Building, Montgomery City Hall, and the Danese Community Building run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the two remaining Saturdays before election day.

Elmore, who works for the American Federation of Teachers, says education played a big role in her choice for president.

“Especially after that last debate, when Gov. Romney made the comment about teachers’ unions. You can't blame everything on teachers’ unions. That sealed the deal,” she said.

Poverty and health care, especially for women, were other important issues for her.

Johnny Morris, another early voter, says his choice for Gov. Mitt Romney for president was informed by a focus on “God, country, and family.”

As someone who has served in the military, Judy Weaver made her decision to vote for Romney based on national security and the economy.

“I was concerned with the way I see the Middle East going...The economy is not improving and the current president is not stepping up to take ownership,” she said.

Shirley Hill was more forgiving of Obama during his first term.

“When Obama got in it, he had Republicans in there that screwed up everything,” she says. “I don’t think it’s his fault. Everyone would fight him on everything. I think the man done the best he can.”

“He come into a big old mess,” agreed Sonia Allen of Scarbro. “It takes more than four years. He’s been doing what he set out to do but it’s a hard road to work. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I say the man’s trying hard.”

A desire for everyone in the country to have medical coverage also makes her an Obama supporter.

“The rich, they just don't care -- if you’re sick then you’re sick,” she said. “They don’t want to give up a penny for nothing, no matter if you’re hungry, homeless, or sick.”

Romney's disparaging remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes also rubbed her the wrong way.

“He more or less wrote people off as a bunch of white trash,” she says.

With some West Virginia politicians on both sides of the aisle accusing the Obama administration of waging a “war on coal,” energy also weighed on voters’ minds.

“The coal miners don’t like Obama,” says Roger Hill.

“But the coal mining business was going down hill before he got in. It’s the market and that’s not his fault,” says Shirley Hill, his wife.

Morris believes Romney will support efforts in many energy sectors.

“I’m not against alternative means,” he says. “I think we should have hydro every 50 feet on the New and Gauley rivers so we could replace carbon energy. But coal is here, cheap, and free.”

“‘War’ is a tough word," says Weaver, a Romney supporter, “but I do believe he is not for coal production. He is not doing everything in his power to stop it, but he’s not encouraging it.”

- - -

The county ticket this fall includes seven uncontested elections and one competitive race for magistrate.

An overwhelmingly Democratic county, Fayette’s primaries are more often the stage for competitive races among local candidates.

According to Fayette County Clerk Kelvin Holliday, of the 356 total voters included 240 Democrats; 78 Republicans; 35 with no party; and 3 independents.

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