Voting during Covid-19 / Candidate Information

2020 General Election Information and Resources

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. 

2020 Primary Election Information and Resources

April 24, 2020 – County Clerk begins sending ballots to absentee voters.

May 14 – 20, 2020 – Sample ballots published in local newspapers throughout the state (publication dates will vary by county). Click here to view sample ballots online. 

May 19, 2020 – Voter Registration Deadline

May 27 – June 6, 2020 - Early Voting at the county courthouse, annex or designated community location. Normal business hours and Saturdays 9AM to 5PM. Click here for the list of early voting locations by county. 

June 2, 2020 – June 8, 2020 – Official List of Candidates or Sample Ballot published in local newspapers throughout the state (publication dates will vary by county).

June 3, 2020 - Deadline for Absentee by Mail Application.

June 8, 2020 – Deadline to hand-deliver Absentee Ballot to County Clerk’s office.

June 9, 2020 – Primary Election Day

June 10, 2020 – Absentee Ballots mailed, but without a postmark accepted. If you plan to vote in person on Election Day contact your couty clerk or click here to see if there are any changes to your polling location before you head out. (Note: Polling location changes are listed by precinct number, followed by the location they’ve been moved to for the 2020 primary election. Don’t know your precinct? Look it up here.)

June 15, 2020 – (Canvass)– Absentee Ballot postmarked by Election Day accepted if received by start of Canvass.

VOTING

Resources from WV Public Broadcasting:  A Pandemic Voter Guide For West Virginia’s 2020 Primary (published 5/14/2020); 5 Questions You May Be Too Afraid to Ask About W.Va.’s Primary Election (published 6/1/2020)

Many are wondering how the COVID-19 crisis will impact the West Virginia’s 2020 primary and judicial elections. On March 26, the Secretary of State announced that every registered West Virginia voter is eligible to vote absentee during this public health emergency.  On April 1, 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 moved forward with plans to send an absentee ballot application to all registered voters unless they have already requested or submitted an application. The application is being sent in the form of a postcard that is specific to COVID-19 as the excuse to request a ballot. You should receive the application in the mail sometime before mid April. The Secretary of State and county clerks recommend that voters return their applications as soon as possible. Once your application is approved, the county clerk will mail you a postage prepaid absentee ballot with instructions. (Update 5/20/20: If you have not received an absentee application, you should contact your county clerk right away. If you requested your ballot but haven’t received it, check the absentee ballot tracking system to see if your ballot has been sent to you. If the request does not appear in the tracker within a week of submitting an absentee application, contact your county clerk. Remember: Your county clerk must receive your application by June 3.)

We encourage you to avoid in person voting and take advantage of this option, as this is the safest way to vote while protecting your health and the health of others. Another way to to observe physical distancing precautions and help limit the number of people congregating at any one site at a given time is to early vote at a community voting location. Early voting is now scheduled to take place from May 27 – June 6. Because West Virginia was able to plan ahead, hopefully the election can take place without the confusion and disruptions that occurred in other states that held elections in March, as the outbreak began to worsen. However, we should anticipate another delay if the coronavirus outbreak has not abated or intensifies. (Note: If you request an absentee ballot but then choose to vote in person, be sure to take your absentee ballot with you for the poll worker to spoil.)

For things to go smoothly, new poll workers will be needed to help administer the election. You can help by contacting your county clerk and volunteering to serve as a poll worker, if you aren’t part of an more at-risk group (or living or caring for someone who is). To be prepared, we should also 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, we also have to expect it to take longer to get the election results.

No matter how you vote, 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 GoVoteWV.com for updates. LWV-WV will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and website.

How to Request an Absentee Ballot:

NOTE: All registered voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application for the primary election. If you are registered, you do not have to request the application. It is automatically being mailed to you. Check your registration status at GoVoteWV.com. The Secretary of State says that voters can expect to receive an absentee ballot application in the mail sometime during the week of April 6. If you are not yet registered, register and request an absentee ballot using the instructions below.

1.Obtain the West Virginia Absentee Ballot Application:

  • Download and print the application from GoVoteWV.com; or
  • Call or email your county clerk to request the application be mailed to you (see county clerk directory at GoVoteWV.com for contact information)

2. Fill out the application in your own handwriting

  • Note: Make sure to check the first box for “Illness, injury or other medical reason which keeps me confined” in Section 4 of the application

3. Return the application to your county clerk by

  • Mail; or
  • Email; or
  • Fax

Note: Your county clerk must receive your application by June 3. Voters may only apply and vote absentee in the county where they live. To make sure your registration is up-to-date, click “Check Your Voter Registration Record” at GoVoteWV.com. Registered voters may request their absentee ballots from now until June 3. The deadline to register to vote for the Primary Election is May 19 and can be completed at GoVoteWV.com. Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before election day (June 9), or hand-delivered the day before the election (June 8).

Candidate Information

Gubernatorial Candidates: https://www.wvpublic.org/post/democratic-hopefuls-face-gubernatorial-debate-amid-virus-fears

https://www.wdtv.com/content/news/2020-Democratic-Gubernatorial-Debate-Recap-570611981.html (5/19/2020)

Huntington Herald-Dispatch (US Senate – House of Reps – Governor – Attorney General – Commissioner of Ag – Auditor – Supreme Court): https://www.herald-dispatch.com/elections/wv_candidates/west-virginia-voter-information/article_d465d5cc-9f83-11e5-a1fd-475521e5c95b.html

LWV of Jefferson County Candidate Forum – April 16, 2020 – Magistrate, Circuit Court, Conservation District:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BeCTaQN2Vg

LWV of Jefferson County Candidate Forum – May 12, 2020 – Jefferson County Board of Education: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT5qr1muuZ0 

Voter’s Guide 2020 Primary Election

Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals

Attorney General

Secretary of State, Auditor and State Treasurer

Governor

US House of Representatives

US Senate

Parkersburg Mayor and City Council

Wood County Candidates for Magistrate

Wood County Board of Education Candidates

Wood County Candidates for County Commissioner, Circuit Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor, Surveyor and Conservation District Supervisor

Wood County Candidates for WV Senate and House of Delegates

Monongalia County Candidates Voter Guide (not from the League, also US & State candidates)

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