CAG Action Alert

Covid-19 and voting: YOU are now eligible to vote absentee!

Update (4/7/20): Wondering how the COVID-19 crisis will impact the West Virginia’s 2020 primary and judicial elections? In late March, the Secretary of State announced that every registered West Virginia voter is eligible to vote absentee during this public health emergency. Last week, Governor Justice announced that he is using his emergency powers to delay the primary until June 9, past the anticipated peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the meantime, county clerks are moving forward with plans to send an absentee ballot application to all registered voters unless they have already requested or submitted an application. The application will be in the form of a postcard that is specific to COVID-19 as the excuse to request a ballot. You can expect to receive the application in the mail sometime during the week of April 6. We want to make sure you have the information you need to participate in our elections and to do so safely, so stay tuned to for updates.


Update (3/31/20): All registered voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application for the May 12 primary. If you are registered, you do not have to request the application. It is automatically being mailed to you.

County clerks will be sending an absentee ballot application to all registered voters unless they have already requested or submitted an application. You can expect to receive an absentee ballot application in the mail sometime during the week of April 6. The Secretary of State and county clerks recommend that voters return their applications as soon as possible. Once your application is approved, your county clerk will mail you a postage prepaid absentee ballot with instructions.

Completed applications must be received by your county clerk on, or before, May 6. 

Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day (May 12).

To receive an absentee ballot, you must be registered to vote. Use this online tool to check your voter registration status. If you are not yet registered, register, then request an absentee ballot. Voter registration informaton and details on how to request an absentee ballot are available here. The voter registration deadline for the 2020 primary election is April 21.

More information here:

All Registered West Virginia Voters Can Cast Absentee Ballots In Primary Election Due To COVID-19

It’s going to take a little patience: Q&A on absentee voting during a state of emergency

Many are wondering how the COVID-19 crisis will impact the May 12th primary and judicial elections. In order to ensure people can exercise their right to vote during this public health crisis, Secretary of State Mac Warner announced last week that he is using his emergency rule-making authority to expand access to absentee voting. This means anyone can cite health concerns as a reason for voting absentee. ALL voters can request absentee ballots now, and county clerks will start sending ballots to voters this week. 

We encourage as many people as possible to avoid in person voting and take advantage of this option, especially if you are at high risk of contracting the virus, or to early vote at a community voting location to observe physical distancing precautions and help limit the number of people congregating at any one site at a given time. Because West Virginia has time to plan ahead, hopefully the election can take place without the confusion and disruptions that proved to be barriers to voting in states that held elections last week.

You can help make sure we’re better prepared by contacting your county clerk and volunteering to serve as a poll worker, if you aren’t part of an at-risk group (or living or caring for someone who is). Even if the election occurs as scheduled, you should anticipate changes in polling locations, as well as longer waits with the additional measures that need to take place to ensure sanitation. With more people voting absentee, you should also expect it to take longer to get the results.

One solution that would help ensure West Virginians are able to cast a ballot and protect their health in situations like this would be to adopt universal vote by mail. However, state elections official say they don’t have the infrastructure or capacity to do this in advance of the primary. The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 would give every American the ability to vote by mail, by providing states with the resources they need to make this happen and ensure fair elections while protecting public health and safety. Contact Senators Manchin and Capito and urge passage of the The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020. 

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