County clerks to begin sending ballots to voters this week

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — County clerks across West Virginia will begin mailing absentee ballots to voters on Friday, allowing for the first votes in the November general election to be cast.

Voters have been allowed to request an absentee ballot since Aug. 11; the state is allowing people to cite the coronavirus as an excuse to vote by mail, although the Secretary of State’s Office did not send out ballot applications as it did for the June primary election.

Polling locations will be open for early voting and on Election Day.

Secretary of State Mac Warner said on Tuesday’s “MetroNews Talkline” that voters should vote in a manner that is most comfortable to them.

“The key to all of this is people have options, and they should decide how they want to vote,” he said.

Secretary of State Mac Warner (File)

According to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, 65,348 registered voters have requested an absentee ballot either through an online portal overseen by the office or by contacting their county clerk’s office.

“As soon as you hit send, you get a confirmation email back that says your application has been received by the clerk,” Warner said. “Then, when the clerk sends the ballot out, they put that data entry in, and you can track your ballot.”

President Donald Trump has asked voters to submit absentee ballots early and check with their polling location if the ballot has been received. If not, the person should vote again, which would be a second and illegal vote.

Twitter on Saturday flagged a tweet from the president about voting, saying the post violated the platform’s rules regarding “civic and election integrity.”

Warner defended Trump, saying the president was not advocating for voting twice.

“When you start using the mail, there are more opportunities for fraud, irregularities or mistakes to be made. We need to be cognizant of that,” he said.

The final day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. West Virginians have until Oct. 13 to register to vote. The early voting period is from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31, and Election Day is Nov. 3.

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