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County voters head to the polls

Lawrence County residents woke to gray skies, chilly weather and pouring rain – all of which could adversely affect the number of ballots cast in today’s general election.

Tuesday, November 02, 1999

Lawrence County residents woke to gray skies, chilly weather and pouring rain – all of which could adversely affect the number of ballots cast in today’s general election.

At the Sheridan No. 2 precinct, about 30 voters had braved Mother Nature’s fury by 8 a.m., which is a light showing as compared to years past, poll workers said.

The cold, wet weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of first-time voter Andy Whitaker, however, as he signed his name and made his way to the polls for the first time this morning.

"It was easy," the 18-year-old said of the new experience. Whitaker stopped by with his mother to exercise his constitutional right before heading off to work at Big Sandy Superstore in Burlington.

Every vote counts, and Whitaker said he will watch the results with new interest this year.

"Hopefully, we’ll get some people in these offices who know what they’re doing," he said.

Long-time voter Alice Webb of South Point would never let a fall shower keep her from the precincts; not after all the work and research she put into the election, she said.

"I read up on the candidates and see what they stand for before every election, and I listen to what other people have to say about them," she said. "I try to make up my own mind from that, but their morals, that’s what I try to go by."

As the rains continued to drench the county, the Lawrence County Board of Elections workers battened down the hatches and rolled up their sleeves, ready for the long day ahead.

And still, the rains came down.

"They say (the rain) keeps people home," director Mary Wipert said, as the wind outside the Lawrence County Courthouse picked up speed, sending water and sodden leaves flying through the air. "Everything seems to be going pretty well, though."

Rain wasn’t the only minor flaw in today’s elections, Mrs. Wipert added.

"We lost about five precinct workers this morning," she said. "But, we were able to find some volunteers willing to take their places. We sent one woman from Ironton all the way up to Proctorville."

One advantage to working the precincts is the opportunity to cast a ballot early, said Irene Wickline as she sat at her post at the county courthouse.

The four precinct workers cast their ballots early, but the numbers didn’t help much in the way of voter turnout, she added.

"We’ve had eight people so far, including the four of us," Ms. Wickline said. "Only four people have voted other than the four workers here."

By 9 a.m., a few more had braved the winds and rain to cast a ballot in Ironton, but turnout was still unusually low, fellow precinct worker Dorothy Richards said.

Ms. Richards and Ms. Wickline have several years of experience from behind the registration table, and both agreed Mother Nature is the culprit for the few ballots being cast.

"So far, the weather really has affected it," Ms. Richards said. "Usually, we have far more voters than this. This rain is really keeping them away."

Polls close at 7:30 p.m.