6:00: Morning News

Mail-in ballots could slow tabulations on election night

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner says county clerks are ordering enough absentee ballots to handle 50 percent of their expected voters in the May 12 Primary Election.

Mac Warner

Emergency rules implemented because of the coronavirus allows all voters in West Virginia to request an absentee ballot which would allow them to vote by mail. Warner said usually only five percent of voters are approved for mail-in absentee.

“You can see this mountain of mail that’s going to come in to these clerk’s offices,” Warner said.

Warner said he can see a large number of mailed-in paper ballots causing a delay in tabulating the results in some counties on election night.

“I would not expect, especially in close races, definitive results on election night,” Warner said. “It may take days or even weeks to get through this.”

Warner said county clerks can opt to count the absentee ballots once they receive them in the mail or they can wait until election night.

“If they want to start processing early that’s up to them,” Warner said.

All voters in West Virginia will receive postcards the week of April 6 telling them of the opportunity to request an application for an absentee ballot. They have until May 6 to make the request.

The Secretary of State’s Office will assist county clerks with mailing costs.

The statewide mailing effort is to ensure voters can take part in the primary election while not jeopardizing the health of other voters and poll workers.

“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,” Warner said last week. “Your ballot box is as close as your mailbox.”

The final day to register to vote in the primary is April 21. The early-voting period goes from April 29 to May 9.

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