More than 22,000 voters submit absentee ballot request in first week of application period

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 22,000 registered voters in West Virginia have submitted requests to vote by mail in the general election.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday said more than 15,000 voters used the office’s online portal to request an absentee ballot, and 7,348 people contacted their county clerk’s office about the process.

The Secretary of State’s Office opened the online portal last Tuesday.

Monongalia County Clerk Carye Blaney said her office has received around 1,500 requests so far.

“I think the voters are anxious,” she said. “They are hearing a lot of things in the media, and they want to get the process started.”

The state is allowing voters to cite the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for receiving a ballot, but voters will not receive an absentee ballot application as they did for the June primary election. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, around 225,000 people voted by mail in the June primary election, including nearly 12,800 Monongalia County residents.

More voters participate in general elections compared to primaries, and Blaney said it is likely more people will vote absentee in November compared to the primary election. Blaney noted factors such as the safety risks in Monongalia County related to the coronavirus and West Virginia University students returning to campus.

“I think a lot of people in Monongalia County are a little bit nervous about that because it’s not certain how that’s going to affect the COVID-19 situation in our community,” she added.

Voters will begin receiving absentee ballots on Sept. 19.

“We are encouraging voters to take their time to vote, but to return the ballot as soon as possible to assist counties with the expected increased volume of absentee ballots,” Secretary of State Mac Warner said.

The final day county clerks will accept ballot request forms is Oct. 28.

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