WV Voters Can Request Absentee Ballots Starting August 11

West Virginians can request absentee ballots starting August 11 (Charleston Gazette-Mail, August 7, 2020)

On July 27, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that voters will be able to cite COVID-19 as a medical excuse to vote absentee in the upcoming election. 

In a press release, Secretary of State Mac Warner said, “West Virginia voters should never have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Let me be very clear. Any voter concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19 will have the option to vote by absentee ballot.”

We wholeheartedly agree, and this is a welcome announcement. Giving all West Virginia voters the option to safely vote by absentee ballot in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is just and right. However, at this point we don’t know if the necessary executive orders and funding will be in place to mail applications to registered voters, as was done in the primary election. The latter was crucial to enabling voters to take advantage of this option in the primary, and West Virginia voters embraced absentee voting in large numbers, with half of voters choosing to cast their ballots safely from home. 

LWV-WV is part of a coalition of voting rights advocates and community leaders calling on the governor, and state and local election officials to make the process consistent with the primary by mailing absentee ballot applications to all registered voters.  

Voters will be able to request absentee ballots for the November election through an online portal beginning August 11, and that this option can help reduce opportunities for human errors and increase efficiency in the request process. While this is a welcome option, it will not help many older West Virginians or those without internet access. Mailing ballot applications to voters will keep the process consistent with the primary and create less confusion for voters. Receiving ballot applications will also likely result in higher voter participation. All registered voters should be mailed an absentee ballot application, along with information about alternative ways to request an absentee ballot, as well as in-person voting options.

The threat of COVID-19 is greater today than it was in June when West Virginia voters proved that voting by mail works. Like the coronavirus, the need to provide safe options for voters hasn’t gone away. 

Press Release: League Urges Replication of the 2020 Primary Election Voting and Absentee Ballot Request Options

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2020

Contacts: Eli Baumwell, Policy Director, ACLU of WV, ebaumwell@acluwv.org

WV Groups, Community Leaders Call on Governor, Secretary of State and County Clerks to Replicate Primary Election Voting and Absentee Ballot Request Options

Absentee Ballot Applications Should Be Mailed to All Registered Voters

 

(Charleston, WV) – With less than 100 days before the General Election, a coalition of voting rights advocates and community leaders representing poor and impacted communities across West Virginia is calling on Governor Jim Justice and state and local election officials to provide further clarity to the state’s voters regarding their plans to ensure a safe, accessible, and secure election and to mailing absentee ballot applications to those voters as was done in the primary election.

In a letter to the Governor, Secretary of State Mac Warner, and Linda Higgins, the head of the WV Association of County Clerks, the groups said, “Giving all West Virginia voters the option to safely vote by absentee ballot in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is just and right,” but cited the mailing of applications to all registered voters as “crucial to enabling voters to take advantage of this option in the primary, with half of voters choosing to cast their ballots safely from home.”

The Secretary of State’s office confirmed Monday that voters will be able to cite COVID-19 as a medical excuse to vote absentee in the upcoming election. In a press release, Secretary Warner said, “West Virginia voters should never have to choose between their health and their right to vote. Let me be very clear. Any voter concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19 will have the option to vote by absentee ballot.”

“Ensuring all voters can utilize the absentee process is a common-sense step,” said Eli Baumwell, Policy Director for the ACLU of WV. “Now we call on our elected officials to keep the same process they had during the primary by mailing absentee ballots. This will reduce confusion and encourage voter participation.”

Jean Evansmore, a Coordinating Committee Member with the WV Poor People’s Campaign, expressed anger saying, “We now have more COVID-19 cases and the Governor and Secretary of State are proposing they do less? Why would we accept that? It is voter suppression under the guise of voting ‘opportunities’.”

“We are continuing our efforts to get it done the way it was done in the primary,” Evansmore said. Those efforts include a letter writing campaign targeting the Governor and Secretary of State.

The letter from the groups acknowledged that voters will have an online option for requesting absentee ballots for the November election, but expressed concern that it would not help many older West Virginians or those without internet access.

Jonathan Rosenbaum, President of the League of Women Voters of WV said, “As an experienced software developer, one of the downsides of a new online portal put together on such short order is that it may have some unresolved bugs, some that may cause worse delivery issues, than the so called ‘issues related to the U.S. Mail service’ the Secretary of State’s office highlighted in their after action report.”

Rosenbaum said election officials needed to make the extra effort to inform voters that lacked computers, technical skills, the internet or transportation of alternatives for requesting a ballot.

“However, that takes us back to the obvious solution, which is to mail everyone absentee ballot applications,” he said.

The groups also criticized Governor Justice’s attacks on absentee voting, saying they “are a direct assault on voting rights.”

“We know that absentee voting increases participation and ensures that more Americans – including members of our military – have their voices heard. We also know that states with long established vote-by-mail programs run them smoothly and expand voter engagement in their states,” said Julie Archer, Coordinator for WV Citizens for Clean Elections. “We cannot allow the right to safely vote become a polarizing issue. We can protect West Virginia voters and protect the vote during this pandemic. And we must.”

Environmental justice organizations and organized labor joined the groups in their call to replicate the voting and absentee ballot request options that were used in the primary.

 

### END ###

 

 

New WV Vote by Mail Website sponsored by the League

https://www.votebymailwv.com/

July 2020 Morgantown-Monongalia Guide to Government Officials

CLICK HERE:

LWVMM Guide to Government Officials July 2020

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election – Parkersburg Mayor and City Council

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Parkersburg Mayor and City Council

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election – Wood County Candidates for Magistrate

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Wood County Candidates for Magistrate

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election – Wood County Board of Education Candidates

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Wood County Candidates for Board of Education

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election – Wood County Candidates for County Commissioner, Circuit Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor, Surveyor and Conservation District Supervisor

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Wood County Candidates for County Commissioner, Circuit Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor, Surveyor and Conservation District Supervisor

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Wood County Candidates for WV Senate and House of Delegates

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Wood County Candidates for WV Senate District 3 and House of Delegates Districts 8, 9 and 10

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election – Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals

Click HERE to view the Voter’s Guide for Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals