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Justice open to further primary election changes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s primary election is still scheduled for May 12, but Gov. Jim Justice left the door open to changes because of the international coronavirus pandemic.

Justice told reporters Monday the primary date could change after President Donald Trump extended the social distancing guidelines through April.

“We’ll let you know very soon about the possibility of an extension,” he said.

The Secretary of State’s Office announced last week every registered voter in West Virginia will receive an absentee ballot application, allowing people to vote in the May 12 primary without having to go to their polling location.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper sent a letter to Warner on Monday regarding the safety of poll workers.

“In West Virginia, we could be hitting our peak on May 1st, during early voting,” Carper said. “While I fully support the voting process and excising our right to vote, I have to voice my deep concern for our poll workers and county employees.”

The Secretary of State’s Office said last week voters will likely receive applications during the first week of April. County clerks will have to receive applications on or before May 6.

Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM the application can be submitted online or by mail.

“Once the voter sends in that application, we enter it into the system, then we will mail the proper ballot based on that voter’s registration and that voters precinct,” she said.

“Our absentee ballots go out as an optical scan. When we mail an absentee ballot to a voter, they color in the oval and when that’s mailed back we can run those ballots through our scanner.”

The last day to register in the primary is April 21. The early voting period will take place between April 29 and May 9.

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