Warner close to seeking special session to propose voting changes prior to May 12 primary

CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†Secretary of State Mac Warner says he’s getting close to formally requesting Gov. Jim Justice to call a special session of the legislature soon in connection with the May 12 Primary Election and the coronavirus.

Mac Warner

Warner told MetroNews Friday he’ll propose amending the state’s election law to “tweak” the current absentee ballot process, the timing of early voting and existing poll worker requirements.

Warner had a conference call with all 55 county clerks Friday. He said he’s formulating a proposal from that input and from what other states, who have already had their primary elections during the coronavirus issue, have done.

Louisiana announced Friday it’s moving its primary to the summer but Warner said there are currently no plans to move the current May 12 date in West Virginia.

“We’re not looking at postponing the election, by any stretch of the imagination, and we do want to run it as close as possible as other elections have been done,” Warner said.

Warner’s proposal could include allowing for ‘no excuse’ absentee ballot.

“So anybody could vote absentee ballot,” Warner said. “Other have states have even gone to completely voting by mail but each one of those have their own implications on the back end.”

Warmer said other states have changed poll worker requirements. He said part of the proposal may be a reduction of workers per precinct from five to three.

Warner said he would like to have the legislature involved to get broad-based support for the changes even though the governor may have the power to make the changes in an emergency situation. Warner said any changes need to happen soon.

“This is a seriousness issue that it should addressed now, early own, so the county clerks can properly plan, whether they need to print more absentee ballots or go to a vote by mail system. Each of these contingencies need to be played out. We have it to our county clerks to get answers on the front of this,” Warner said.

There are now less than 60 days before the primary. Warner said the time will pass quickly.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we’re just trying to stay on the front end of this and that’s why we’re discussing it, I haven’t necessarily called on the governor to call a special session yet but I think we’re approaching that very quickly,” Warner said.

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