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Secretary of State Warner visits area to meet with county clerks

Photo Courtesy/WV Governor’s Office Secretary of State Mac Warner briefs the press about plans to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters prior to the state primary earlier this year. The applications will not be mailed out to all voters for the general election.

ELKINS — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner visited the region Tuesday, meeting with the county clerks in Randolph and Upshur counties in preparation for the general election Nov. 3.

“We implemented these new procedures with the absentee ballot process and started this portal (the website GoVoteWV.com). I’m checking with county clerks and making sure things are going smoothly, and so far they are.” Warner told The Inter-Mountain Tuesday.

“It’s actually working the way the clerks had advised me after the primary. They did not want us to send out applications to everybody again (as the state had done for this year’s primary election).

“The reason we sent the applications out to everybody for the primary was because the governor had us under a ‘stay at home’ order, and that conflicted with the early voting, so you couldn’t do both. You couldn’t go to the polls with the governor telling you to stay at home,” Warner said.

“The clerks didn’t like it. It was 1.2 million pieces of paper that needed to be tracked,” he said. “The clerks said, ‘Please don’t sent out the applications,’ but we needed to make it as easy as possible. In a typical election we have 7,000 people who vote absentee. We had 224,000 people who voted absentee in the primary this year.”

The solution was to create the GoVoteWV.com portal, he said.

“The answer is to use technology. If you want to request an absentee ballot you can do that in about three minutes right here with your phone or tablet (using GoVoteWV.com),” he said. “The clerks are really liking this.”

Warner said the first round of absentee ballots will be mailed on Friday, and absentee ballot voters who have submitted their applications should watch their mailboxes starting Monday. He added that 63,000 absentee ballots have already been requested.

He pointed out that for the 2020 general election, the last day West Virginia voters can request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. However, the U.S. Postal Service asks for voters to mail the absentee request 15 days in advance to ensure delivery to the county clerk and to give time for voters to complete their ballot.

Warner said in-person voting is still “the gold standard” because there are very few ways for mistakes to happen while voting in person.

“And I want people to feel safe voting because we had zero cases of COVID-19 reported due to the primary,” he said. “That’s because we had PPE in all voting places. (For the general election) we’ll have more masks, shields, gloves … and Anheuser-Busch is stepping up and giving us all the hand sanitizer we need (for in-person voting).

“I want people to feel comfortable going to the polls if they can. But if you do have that COVID-19 concern, then absentee ballot is the way to go.”

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