A Pandemic Voter Guide For West Virginia’s 2020 Primary
West Virginia officials moved the state’s primary election from May 12 to June 9 out of safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, and have expanded options for mail-in voting.
Registered voters can vote in person during early voting or on Election Day at a polling location, or by absentee ballot.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 19. Early in-person voting begins May 27 and ends June 6. You can also vote in person on Election Day, June 9.
If you still need to register for the primary
You can check to make sure you’re registered to vote and can register online here. The deadline to register to vote is May 19.
To register online, you will need:
- Your name as it appears on your West Virginia driver's license or ID card
- Your date of birth
- Your West Virginia driver's license or ID card number
- Your last four digits of your Social Security number
If you don’t have a driver's license or ID card number and the last four digits of your Social Security number, you may not submit your form online, but you may enter your information online to be auto-filled in a voter registration application. Once you create your application online, you may print, sign and deliver it to your county clerk by mail or in person.
When you complete the application online it will be submitted to your county clerk for processing. The county clerk will notify you if your application has been accepted or rejected.
If you prefer to complete your voter registration form by hand, you maydownload a blank voter registration form tomail or deliver in person. You can also contact your county clerk and request a voter registration application by mail.
Do I have to vote by absentee?
No. However, all registered voters are permitted to use an absentee mail-in ballot under the “other medical reason” excuse due to the coronavirus.
Every registered voter in West Virginia should receive a mailed absentee ballot application.
To vote absentee:
- You must fill out the application and submit it to your county clerk by mail, fax or in person.
- Once approved, the county clerk will mail a postage prepaid absentee ballot with instructions and materials to the voter.
- Your county clerk must receive your absentee ballot application by June 3.
What are the deadlines?
To have your vote counted for the primary, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, June 9. (This does not apply if you are actively-deployed military or overseas voter.)
If you would prefer to hand deliver your absentee ballot, it must be delivered to thecounty clerk's office by June 8, the day before Election Day.
Note: You don’t have to personally return your own absentee ballot, but no one person may deliver more than two voters' absentee ballots.
To be accepted, absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day must be received by June 15.
What if I’m hospitalized on Election Day?
If you are in the hospital on Election Day, two election officials can bring you an emergency absentee ballot. You or a family member should contact your county clerk no earlier than the seventh day before the election and no later than noon on Election Day (June 2-9).
Some counties also allow a voter who recently moved to a nursing home to vote an emergency absentee ballot. In addition, some counties allow voters who, on or after the seventh day preceding an election, become confined to a specific location within the county because of illness, injury, physical disability, immobility due to advanced age, or another medical reason to vote emergency absentee.
Are mail-in ballots a secure way to vote?
Election experts say voter fraud among any type of voting, including mail-in ballot, is extremely rare. According to NPR, mail-in ballotsaccounted for 1 in 4 votes in 2018 and are increasing in popularity.
And the idea has bipartisan support. Mail-in ballots are used in Republican-friendly states such as Florida, Arizona and Utah. Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed that a mail-in ballot be sent to every voter in the country.
For a look at how states are handling voting during a pandemic,see this chart from the Brennan Center.
But wait, I can still vote in person right?
Yes, you can.
From May 27 through June 6 you can early vote in person at the county courthouse, annex or designated community location. Normal business hours and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can also vote in person on Election Day, June 9
Find your local polling place here.