In an effort to keep voters safe and protect election workers from the ongoing threat created by COVID-19, every registered voter in West Virginia should receive an absentee ballot application this week for the primary election now scheduled June 9, according to Mac Warner, secretary of state.

“Every registered voter will receive an absentee ballot application in the mail around April 6,” explained Jewell Aguilar, Wyoming County clerk.

“We encourage you to take this opportunity to vote from home, so you can avoid contact with other individuals during early voting or election day.

“If you want to vote absentee, complete the postcard and mail it back to us in the clerk’s office,” Aguilar emphasized.

There are three simple steps for voting an absentee-by-mail ballot. First, the voter submits an absentee ballot application to the county clerk. Then, once approved, the county clerk will mail a postage-prepaid absentee ballot with instructions and materials to the voter. Finally, the voter marks the absentee ballot according to the instructions and places it in the mail to be postmarked by election day.

The applications should be returned as soon as possible to the county clerk’s office, but must be received by the county clerk on or before June 3.

This will help county clerks and their staffs process the applications and place absentee ballots in the mail in a timely manner, Warner said.

“The governor, attorney general, county clerks and I have zealously worked together within state law to balance health concerns with the ease of voting,” Warner said. “We have determined that the absentee voting process is the safest method.

“By sending an absentee application to all registered voters, it encourages voters to participate in the election in the safest manner possible without having to leave their house. Your ballot box is as close as your mailbox,” Warner said.

During the ongoing state of emergency created by the virus, every registered voter is eligible to vote an absentee-by-mail ballot in the upcoming primary election.

The goal of the uniform statewide mailing is to ensure every eligible voter has an opportunity to vote while protecting the health of voters, county clerks’ staff members, election workers, and the general public, while maximizing participation in the primary election, according to Warner.

Voters who have already requested or submitted an absentee application to the county clerk will be excluded from the mailing to prevent confusion and duplication, Warner noted. However, there may be overlap in requests and mailings by clerks due to postal delays, so any voter who receives more than one absentee application may disregard additional application mailings, according to officials.

When voters receive their absentee ballot, it is also recommended that they return the ballot in a reasonable time to help facilitate the administration of the election and speed up the tabulation process after the election.

The secretary of state’s office will reimburse the cost of the mailings to county clerks in an expedited fashion to reduce the increased financial burden on county budgets.

The secretary of state’s office has established a website, GoVoteWV.com, to provide information and educate voters on the election process, including absentee voting, updated registration/polling place locations, poll worker opportunities, and auxiliary positions.

With 1,723 polling locations across the state, it takes more than 9,000 election day workers and county employees to manage a statewide election.

For more information or assistance, voters should phone their county clerk’s office.

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