Midterms brought Trump visits and higher voter turnout
HUNTINGTON — The 2018 midterm elections in West Virginia featured a hotly contested race for U.S. senator, several visits to West Virginia by President Donald Trump and revived voter participation.
The boost in voter turnout was indicated in early voting numbers, which were about 80 percent higher than in that last mid-term elections in 2014, and higher overall turnout for the Nov. 6 election.
Unofficial numbers released by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office showed 174,506 early votes cast compared with 97,388 in the 2014 midterm election. Looking at the early voting numbers in Cabell County in this year’s midterm election, there were 8,963 early votes cast. In the 2014 midterm election, a total of 4,439 early votes were cast in Cabell County, and there were 3,417 early votes in the 2006 midterm.
More than 47 percent of registered West Virginia voters participated in the election, according to unofficial results. That’s compared to 2014′s midterm election, which saw about 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
Trump returned to the Mountain State in November for his third rally of the year in support of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey and his seventh visit since being elected president. He previously rallied voters in Charleston in August and Wheeling in September. However, the Democrat incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin beat Morrisey statewide by just over three percentage points. He won Cabell County by nearly 20 points.
Trump also threw his support behind U.S. House of Representatives 3rd District Republican candidate Carol Miller in her race against Democratic challenger and state senator Richard Ojeda.
Carol Miller won the seat with 56 percent of the vote to Ojeda’s 44 percent. Ojeda said in his concession speech in Logan County that he was not done fighting and later said he would run for president of the United States in 2020.
In the West Virginia Legislature, Republicans maintained control of both the Senate and House of Delegates. However, the state GOP lost five seats in the House, lowering their seats from 64 to 59. The Senate dropped from 22 Republican seats to 20 out of 34 total members.
In addition to changes on the bench brought about by convictions against two justices and impeachment proceedings against others, voters placed the judiciary budget under the supervision of the legislature in an effort to control spending and provide accountability to how taxpayer dollars are being used.
Voters also passed a ballot initiative known as the “No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment,” or Amendment 1, which would add a line delineating that “nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion,” with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother.
It could directly prevent low-income women on Medicaid from being able to use their public funding for abortions. West Virginia is one of 17 states that allow Medicaid funding to be allocated for most abortions deemed “medically necessary.”
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.