CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner issued a joint fraud alert Thursday in connection with the June 9 Primary Election while Gov. Jim Justice continued to encourage voters to choose in-person voting over mail-in absentee.
Morrisey said the fraud alert is taking an additional step to protect voters.
“We know that fraud occurs more frequently when we’re dealing with some of these mail-in absentee ballots,” Morrisey said.
All voters in West Virginia have the option to request a mail-in absentee ballot because of the coronavirus pandemic. The voters have received postcards from the county clerks in their counties. Clerks will begin mailing ballots out next week.
Gov. Justice used his daily media briefing Thursday to once again urge voters to choose to go to the polls in person on June 9.
“We don’t want to go by absentee,” Justice said. “All of us know, all of us know the level of potential corruption from purely absentee is rampant.”
When asked to respond to Justice’s comments, Morrisey said a voter should be able to choose which way he or she wants to vote but the ballot must be protected.
“The right to vote can be abused by fraudsters and I think we need to take protections,” Morrisey said. “We’re in a very unusual circumstance. It’s coronavirus. There will be absentee ballots that will be submitted and let’s make sure that’s done the right way.”
Justice said residents need not worry about heading to their local polling place.
“We’ll be able to have a June 9 primary and we’ll be able to have poll workers and we’ll be able to have distancing and protect our people,” Justice said. “Hopefully by June 9 everything will be just rolling around and we’ll be in great shape.”
Warner said he was pleased to join with Morrisey in the fraud alert.
“We want citizens to understand just what constitutes voter fraud especially as it relates to the use of absentee ballots,” Warner said.
Voters who apply for a mail-in absentee ballot generally should receive it with a week to 10 days after they send in their application. Warner said if that doesn’t happen they should contact their county clerk. He said someone may have stolen a ballot from a voter’s mailbox.
Warner and Morrisey also said fraudsters may send in an application in the name of a recently deceased resident and then steal their ballot when it comes in the mail.
Morrisey warned senior citizens that criminals may try to “assist” them in voting.
Anyone who suspects potential voter fraud should contact the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-877-FRAUD-WV.